New Research Links Concussions and Alzheimer’s Disease

Brain Abnormalities Similar in Both Conditions

Science Codex is reporting that a new study published in the Journal Radiology is showing similar brain abnormalities between mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), also known as concussions and those found in early Alzheimer’s dementia.

“Findings of MTBI bear a striking resemblance to those seen in early Alzheimer’s dementia,” said the study’s lead author, Saeed Fakhran, M.D., assistant professor of radiology in the Division of Neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Sleep-wake disturbances are among the earliest findings of Alzheimer’s patients, and are also seen in a subset of MTBI patients,” Dr. Fakhran said. “Furthermore, after concussion, many patients have difficulty filtering out white noise and concentrating on the important sounds, making it hard for them to understand the world around them. Hearing problems are not only an independent risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but the same type of hearing problem seen in MTBI patients has been found to predict which patients with memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.”

Sleep-wake disturbances are among the most disabling post-concussive symptoms, directly decreasing quality of life and productivity and magnifying post-concussion memory and social dysfunction.

According to Dr. Fakhran, the results suggest that the true problem facing concussion patients may not be the injury itself, but rather the brain’s response to that injury.

“Traditionally, it has been believed that patients with MTBI have symptoms because of abnormalities secondary to direct injury,” he said. “Simply put, they hit their head, damaged their brain at the point of trauma and thus have symptoms from that direct damage. Our preliminary findings suggest that the initial traumatic event that caused the concussion acts as a trigger for a sequence of degenerative changes in the brain that results in patient symptoms and that may be potentially prevented. Furthermore, these neurodegenerative changes are very similar to those seen in early Alzheimer’s dementia.”

What Is Causing the Brain to Respond This Way?

Post Concussion syndrome has been linked to dementia before, and brain research utilizing upright MRIs and specialized software is beginning to reveal why the brain is responding this way to head and neck traumas.

When someone suffers a head or neck trauma a misalignment will occur in the upper neck area. This misalignment of the upper neck bones will lead to irritation and pressure building up in the blood vessels that feed and drain the brain.

The longer the misalignment is there the more damage is done to the brain. Cerebral spinal fluid flow will be affected, intracranial pressure will build up leading to ongoing brain damage.

Once this misalignment is corrected and proper blood, cerebral spinal fluid and nerve flow is restored the brain begins to heal very quickly.

If you have a history of concussion or head or neck trauma and are beginning to experience problems with your memory or sleep patterns, now is the time to take action.

Dr. Tymothy Flory, Dr. James Weiss and Dr. Jameson Wong of Atlas Spinal Care in Upland, California are Upper Cervical Specialists trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Their upper cervical clinic also serves Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas, Glendora and surrounding areas. They are uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems.