By Ken Reed

As if there weren’t already enough reasons to worry about brain injuries in sports, here’s another one: a new large study found that concussions in adolescents can increase the risk of later developing multiple sclerosis. In addition, the M.S. risk increased if an athlete had suffered more than one brain injury.

The new study builds on past studies with animals that have shown that trauma to the central nervous system, including the brain, may jump-start the kind of autoimmune reactions that underlie multiple sclerosis.

The new study’s findings suggest that “there could be a link” between head injury during adolescence and the development of M.S. as an adult, says Scott Montgomery, a professor of clinical epidemiology at Orebro University, a Swedish institute, who led the study.

Nevertheless, the absolute incidence of M.S. among young people in the study who had had a concussion remained small. It is probable, Montgomery says, that other factors are involved, including an underlying genetic susceptibility to M.S. Nevertheless, it’s possible the genetic susceptibility to M.S. might be awakened by a blow to the head.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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