A new study by researchers from the University of Michigan found that around 20 percent of U.S. teenagers have reported having one or more concussions in their lifetime, a dangerous statistic as scientists try to fully understand the long-term effects of concussions and its impact on the developing brain.
The study, which was published Tuesday as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, relied on data from the 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey and surveyed over 13,000 teenagers, with the average age being 16 years old.
Of the respondents, 19.5 percent reported at least one concussion in their lifetime, and 5.5 percent reported being diagnosed with one or more concussions. Of these, the majority of respondents who had concussions were white, male and involved in contact sports.
Multiple concussions and repeated head trauma are believed to lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disorder that can account for a range of symptoms — from forgetfulness, difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior to more serious conditions of depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
A landmark study by researchers from the CTE Center at Boston University School of Medicine found that 99 percent of former NFL football players brains had CTE. Other results of the study confirmed CTE in brains of people who had played football for at least 15 years, some only at the high school level.
“Little is known about the prevalence and factors associated with concussions among U.S. adolescents. Providing a national baseline of concussion prevalence and factors is necessary to target and monitor prevention efforts to reduce these types of injuries during this important developmental period,” the University of Michigan researchers wrote in the latest study.
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