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New study focuses on brain's first 24 hours after head injury

Many concussion studies have focused on the long-term effects of brain injuries. However, few have examined the very short-term effects.

The Huffington Post reported on a new study, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, that examined what happens to the brain during the first 24 hours after a concussion.


Researchers found that in the first 13 hours after a concussion, there are decreases in activity in certain regions of the right hemisphere of the brain. However, seven weeks after a concussion, there is more activity in these brain regions than in people who didn't experience a concussion in the first place.


"This hyperactivation may represent a compensatory brain response that mediates recovery," study researcher Thomas Hammeke, Ph.D., who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said in a statement. "This is the first study to demonstrate that reversal in activation patterns, and that reversal matches the progression of symptoms from the time of the injury through clinical recovery."


Hammeke conducted the study alongside researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, St. Mary's Hospital, the University of North Carolina, Franklin College and the Marshfield Clinic.


The researchers said the findings might help others understand what needs to be done to minimize long-term effects of head injuries. The control group was 12 high school football players with concussions and 12 high school players without concussions.


Not surprisingly, the participants who experienced concussion had cognitive symptoms -- like slowed reactions -- 13 hours after experiencing the concussion. However, these brain functioning abilities and reaction times went back to normal after researchers followed up with all the study participants seven weeks later.


-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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