MMA Fighters, Boxers May Have Signs of Long-term Brain Injury in Blood

Jacksonville, Fla. – Boxers and mixed martial arts fighters may have markers of long-term brain injury in their blood, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., July 14 to 16, 2017. “This study is part of a larger study to detect not just individual concussions but permanent brain injury overall at its earliest stages and to determine which fighters are at greatest risk of long-term complications,” said study author Charles Bernick, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study looked at data over a five-year period and found elevated levels of two brain injury markers in the blood; now the question is whether they may signify permanent traumatic brain injury with long-term consequences.” Researchers measured two biological markers of brain injury. One is a brain protein called neurofilament light chain, the other is called tau. Both are components of nerve fibers that can be detected in the blood when the fibers are injured. For the study, researchers took blood samples from 291 active professional fighters with an average age of 30, 44 retired fighters with an average age of 45 and 103 non-fighters with an average age of 30. The blood samples were then tested for levels of both proteins. Researchers found that active professional fighters had higher levels of both proteins compared to retired fighters or non-fighters. For example, they found that levels of neurofilament light chain were 40 percent higher in active boxers than in non-fighters. They also found that the more a fighter sparred in the two weeks before the blood samples were taken, the higher the levels of neurofilament light chain in their blood. Neither age, ethnicity nor number of professional fights in active fighters were linked to levels of either protein. Bernick said while neurofilament light chain protein was higher in active fighters at the start of the study, levels did not increase significantly during the study period. On the other hand, there was a group of fighters who showed increasing levels of tau over time. When the researchers looked at brain size, they found that for fighters who had increasing levels of tau over time, there was a 7 percent decline in the volume of their thalamus, which is located in the center of the brain and regulates sleep, consciousness, alertness, cognitive function and language while also sending sensory and movement signals to other portions of the brain. Finally, the study found that fighters with higher levels of neurofilament light chain protein did not do as well on computerized tests that measure the brain’s processing speed as the retired fighters and non-fighters. “Our study found that higher levels of both proteins may be associated with repetitive head trauma,” said Bernick. “However, neurofilament light may be more sensitive to acute traumatic brain injury whereas tau may be a better measurement of cumulative damage over time. More research needs to be done to see how these may be used to monitor traumatic brain injury and the neurological consequences over time.” A limitation of the study was the difference in the average age of active and retired fighters. The study is part of the Professional Fighters Brain Health study, which is ongoing. The study was supported by the University of California, Los Angeles Dream Fund, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bellator Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Haymon Boxing and Top Rank. To learn more about traumatic 
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Jacksonville, Fla. – Boxers and mixed martial arts fighters may have markers of long-term brain injury in their blood, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., July 14 to 16, 2017. “This study is part of a larger study to detect not just individual concussions but permanent brain injury overall at its earliest stages and to determine which fighters are at greatest risk of long-term complications,” said study author Charles Bernick, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study looked at data over a five-year period and found elevated levels of two brain injury markers in the blood; now the question is whether they may signify permanent traumatic brain injury with long-term consequences.” Researchers measured two biological markers of brain injury. One is a brain protein called neurofilament light chain, the other is called tau. Both are components of nerve fibers that can be detected in the blood when the fibers are injured. For the study, researchers took blood samples from 291 active professional fighters with an average age of 30, 44 retired fighters with an average age of 45 and 103 non-fighters with an average age of 30. The blood samples were then tested for levels of both proteins. Researchers found that active professional fighters had higher levels of both proteins compared to retired fighters or non-fighters. For example, they found that levels of neurofilament light chain were 40 percent higher in active boxers than in non-fighters. They also found that the more a fighter sparred in the two weeks before the blood samples were taken, the higher the levels of neurofilament light chain in their blood. Neither age, ethnicity nor number of professional fights in active fighters were linked to levels of either protein. Bernick said while neurofilament light chain protein was higher in active fighters at the start of the study, levels did not increase significantly during the study period. On the other hand, there was a group of fighters who showed increasing levels of tau over time. When the researchers looked at brain size, they found that for fighters who had increasing levels of tau over time, there was a 7 percent decline in the volume of their thalamus, which is located in the center of the brain and regulates sleep, consciousness, alertness, cognitive function and language while also sending sensory and movement signals to other portions of the brain. Finally, the study found that fighters with higher levels of neurofilament light chain protein did not do as well on computerized tests that measure the brain’s processing speed as the retired fighters and non-fighters. “Our study found that higher levels of both proteins may be associated with repetitive head trauma,” said Bernick. “However, neurofilament light may be more sensitive to acute traumatic brain injury whereas tau may be a better measurement of cumulative damage over time. More research needs to be done to see how these may be used to monitor traumatic brain injury and the neurological consequences over time.” A limitation of the study was the difference in the average age of active and retired fighters. The study is part of the Professional Fighters Brain Health study, which is ongoing. The study was supported by the University of California, Los Angeles Dream Fund, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bellator Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Haymon Boxing and Top Rank. To learn more about traumatic brain injury, visit http://www.aan.com/patients.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Emotional Intel. Part One

img_1563Everyone’s always talking about Emotional Intelligence (EI) but what exactly is it? One important aspect of emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions – in oneself and others – and to use that information appropriately. For example, recognizing emotional intelligence in oneself can help you regulate and manage your emotions, while recognizing emotions in others can lead to empathy and success in your relationships, both personal and professional. Given the importance of emotional intelligence, I thought it might be helpful to give a very brief overview of the topic, as well as 10 ways to enhance your emotional intelligence, originally published in my book “The Emotional Revolution.” In 1990, Yale psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey originally coined the term emotional intelligence, which some researchers claim that is an inborn characteristic, while others suggest that you can improve it with proper guidance and practice. I agree with both schools and obviously with the latter – or I wouldn’t be giving you tips as to what you can do to improve your EI. It may not be possible for everyone to have a psychotherapist. But you can become your own therapist. (After all, Freud analyzed himself.) It all starts with learning how to listen to your feelings. While it may not always be easy, developing the ability to tune in to your own emotions is the first and perhaps most important step. Here are 10 Ways to Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence: 1. Don’t interrupt or change the subject. If feelings are uncomfortable, we may want to avoid them by interrupting or distracting ourselves. Sit down at least twice a day and ask, “How am I feeling?” It may take a little time for the feelings to arise. Allow yourself that small space of time, uninterrupted. 2. Don’t judge or edit your feelings too quickly. Try not to dismiss your feelings before you have a chance to think them through. Healthy emotions often rise and fall in a wave, rising, peaking, and fading naturally. Your aim should be not to cut off the wave before it peaks. 3. See if you can find connections between your feelings and other times you have felt the same way. When a difficult feeling arises, ask yourself, “When have I felt this feeling before?” Doing this may help you to realize if your current emotional state is reflective of the current situation, or of another time in your past. 4. Connect your feelings with your thoughts. When you feel something that strikes you as out of the ordinary, it is always useful to ask, “What do I think about that?” Often times, one of our feelings will contradict others. That’s normal. Listening to your feelings is like listening to all the witnesses in a court case. Only by admitting all the evidence will you be able to reach the best verdict. 5. Listen to your body. A knot in your stomach while driving to work may be a clue that your job is a source of stress. A flutter of the heart when you pick up a girl you have just started to date may be a clue that this could be “the real thing.” Listening to these sensations and the underlying feelings that they signal will allow you to process with your powers of reason. 6. If you don’t know how you’re feeling, ask someone else. People seldom realize that others are able to judge how they are feeling. Ask someone who knows you (and whom you trust) how you are coming across. You may find the answer both surprising and illuminating. 7. Tune in to your unconscious feelings. How can you become more aware of your unconscious feelings? Try free association. While in a relaxed state, allow your thoughts to roam freely and watch where they go. Analyze your dreams. Keep a notebook and pen at the side of your bed and jot down your dreams as soon as you wake up. Pay special attention to dreams that repeat or are charged with powerful emotion. 8. Ask yourself: How do I feel today? Start by rating your overall sense of well-being on a scale of 0 and 100 and write the scores down in a daily log book. If your feelings seem extreme one day, take a minute or two to think about any ideas or associations that seem to be connected with the feeling. 9. Write thoughts and feelings down. Research has shown that writing down your thoughts and feelings can help profoundly. A simple exercise like this could take only a few hours per week. 10. Know when enough is enough. There comes a time to stop looking inward; learn when its time to shift your focus outward. Studies have shown that encouraging people to dwell upon negative feelings can amplify these feelings. Emotional intelligence involves not only the ability to look within, but also to be present in the world around you. Chapter 5 in my book, The Emotional Revolution: Harnessing the Power of Your Emotions for a More Positive Life, goes into greater detail on emotional intelligence. Wishing you Light and Transcendence, Norman “Copyright Norman Rosenthal” Popular Books by Norman Rosenthal, MD: Click to Order Transcendence, Winter Blues, The Emotional Revolution

BFF?

How have the people in your lives reacted in the acute and longterm stages of recovery post brain injury?

I grew up with enough childhood adversity to have been warned by my very own mother about even “the really good friends” giving up and leaving you or your family to face hardship alone.  Some people are themselves traumatized. Especially if your memory doesn’t include the days, weeks, or months you lay in a hospital or behaved as if no piece of your prior personality would ever be discovered again.  But even these people, who’ve been traumatized in their own ways, tend to stick around or completely leave my life in roughly the same ratio.  Love, friendship, bonding, attachment, human connection and devotion – it is all so indefinite, after all.  Today I thought about the roommates who told me to move out because I was acting “different” and minor safety fixtures were annoying them in the apartment.  Then one day I came home after a neurology appointment in desperate need of quiet and sleep.  The apartment locks were changed.  My keys were useless.  My friends were making me homeless.  A neighbor greeted me and I walked through her apartment unit and out into the back; I climbed the roof and called both roommates confused; I was confused and still so tired.  After no replies, I had no idea of where to sleep or what to do for myself.  This was back when a taxing day took every bit of problem solving and planning from my damaged brain.  Not sure what direction to even walk (in retrospect, the bus and a train, or an uber, would have put me at another friend’s doorstep; my mom and sister only lived a 40 minute ride away as well.).  Paralyzed with the experience of living out your day until your cognitive light extinguishes before the sun has faded to sunset, I stayed on the roof of a neighboring apartment and slept in the San Francisco chill without food, water, or warmth.  Upon waking, I saw one roommate and asked about the change of locks.  He summoned our third roommate, the real overt bully in this situation, and the two of them called the police and tried to have me arrested for breaking in.  I pointed to my room and found much of my furniture remained, but plants, art, and other personal items could be seen in other bedrooms or in trash bags.  Confusion, just more confusion before I could process this situation – not the processing time the police like to stick around and patiently wait.  Since they believed I did live here, and clearly knew the neighbor who let me inside, this was no break-in.  Then one roommate, a friend of a decade or so, told a new story of why I was to be jailed; he accused me of hacking into his “social security funds” and stealing money.  The officer and I exchanged glances, annd neither of us quite understood what this allegation was all about.  But cops are busy, and I was too overwhelmed, shocked, and terrorized by this development that I agreed to pay for an Uber to my mom’s, where I’d sleep on the couch as I sometimes did when the City became too noisy.  The cops thanked me and stated I should either file a wrongful eviction case or arrange to have my belongings moved in one week.  I texted my roommates one week later that a moving company was scheduled, that I wanted nothing to do with this, and that one of them needed to let them in the apartment to haul my belongings into the moving truck.  No explanatory text. Just a flat refusal followed by radio silence.  This friend, could not possibly misunderstand brain injury more than he turned out to be an opportunistic sociopath.  Stores like that still wake me up at night.  Other times, it’s just a lonely, blue kinda mood when no lifelong friends bother to visit or call you while you are living in a 24 hour skilled nursing facility during your thirtieth birthday.  Only my loyal friend and companion, once a fiance before she became more caretaker, and now needs more time to heal and to see us whole again before we can permit the deep love we share to cause happiness once more – instead of numb panic and anger from the PTSD – but only her, with her heart wrenched out of her chest, despondent when even a look my way reminds her of the day her dreams died; the day our dreams died and we never even had the chance to say goodbye.  Just a day and a foot placed one in front of the other, slowly returning to ourselves. One friend remains, and we take it one day at a time.

Celebrating 19 Years Post-TBI — Laura Bruno’s Blog

Today, May 19, 2017, marks the 19th anniversary of my life altering brain injury, and I am filled with gratitude. Without that car “accident,” I would not be where I am today, would not be offering intuitive readings, Life Coaching, or teaching Reiki. I would not have explored Tarot or past lives, painted portal doors, […]

via Celebrating 19 Years Post-TBI — Laura Bruno’s Blog