In a study from the University of Oxford and elsewhere, scientists found experiencing three or more concussions is linked with worsened brain function in later life.
The team also found having just one moderate-to-severe concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a long-term impact on brain function, including memory.
In the study, the team used data from more than 15,000 participants of the online PROTECT study, who were aged between 50 and 90 and based in the UK.
In the online PROTECT study, participants share detailed lifestyle information, and complete a suite of cognitive tests every year, for up to 25 years.
This rich mine of data helps researchers understand how the brain ages, and the factors involved in maintaining a healthier brain in later life.
The researchers reported the severity and frequency of concussions they had experienced throughout their lives and completed annual computerized tests for brain function.
The team found that people who reported three or more concussions had much worse cognitive function, which became successively worse with each subsequent concussion after that.
Those who had four or more mild concussion episodes also showed worsened processing speed and working memory. Each additional reported concussion was linked to progressively worse cognitive function.
Attention and completion of complex tasks were particularly affected.
Furthermore, the researchers found that reporting even one moderate-to-severe concussion was associated with worsened attention, completion of complex tasks and processing speed capacity.
The researchers say people who have had concussions should be warned of the dangers of continuing high-risk sports or work.
The PROTECT study is conducted entirely online, and is open to new participants aged 40 and over.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and Coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by Dr. Vanessa Raymont et al and published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
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