2nd brain injury during recovery can have dire results

There is precious little definitively known about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). However, generations of combat sports have generated some anecdotal understanding.

Gary Goodridge suffers from CTE, and is unable to work. In 2011 he told the Orangeville Banner he believes a lot of the damage likely occurred as a result of getting back into the ring too early following a concussion.

“I had like three weeks in a row where I was knocked out two of the three weeks,” he said. “You built up brain injury after brain injury after brain injury by not giving it proper time to heal. That’s not to say that if you were to give it time to heal, then it was going to go away.”

Now there is scientific evidence to back up the belief, and an explanation for why.

Via Erik Magraken’s Combat Sports Law blog.

Adding to the site’s database of combative sports and brain health safety studies, important research was recently published highlighting the need to protect the brain while it is recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury.

In the study, titled Distinct Myeloid Cell Subsets Promote Meningeal Remodeling and Vascular Repair After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, published in the journal of Nature Immunology, the authors documented vascular damage in patients who suffered traumatic brain injury.  They noted that following injury a ‘clean up crew’ entered the area of injury and cleaned up dead cells.  From there a ‘repair crew’ entered which repaired the damages blood vessels.

Of note, if a second mild traumatic brain injury occurred during ‘clean up’ phase the repair phase failed to take place.  In an interview discussing these findings to MedicalExpress.com, Dr. Dorian McGavern noted “Following a head injury, the meninges call in a clean-up crew, followed by a separate repair crew, to help fix damaged blood vessels…The timing of a second head injury may determine whether the meninges can be repaired. We have shown on a cellular level, that two or more head injuries within a very short amount of time can have really dire consequences for the brain lining and its ability to repair…It is possible that patients who did not fully recover following a head injury may have had problems with the first phase of the repair process“.

These findings reinforce the idea that combat sports and other athletes must take rest periods seriously following mild traumatic brain injury.

The full abstract of the study reads as follows:

Author Erik Magraken is a British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, founder of the Combat Law Sports Blog, and profoundly appreciated UGer.