Study Finds a Strong Link Between Teen Concussions and MS Risk
More and more teenagers who play contact sports are being diagnosed with concussions; in fact, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 20 percent of teens have had at least one concussion. Now, a large-scale Swedish study published in Annals of Neurology found that adolescents who had experienced just one concussion were 22 percent more likely to develop multiple sclerosis later in life than those who never had such head trauma. The numbers got worse for young people with multiple concussions, for whom the risk of developing MS in adulthood rose by nearly 150 percent.
While the researchers stress that many people injured in adolescence will never develop MS, and that other factors, including genetics, might well play a role in incidence of the disease, the findings do suggest thatthere could be a link between adolescent head injury and MS.
"Physical activity and participation in sports should be encouraged in young people," said Dr. Scott Montgomery, a professor of clinical epidemiology at Sweden's Orebro University, who was quoted in The New York Times. "But we should try to minimize the risk of young people experiencing head injuries."
If you did have one or more concussions in your youth, and who might be experiencing symptoms of MS, like dizziness, double vision, or problems with balance, what should you do? "Talk with your doctor," urged Dr. Montgomery.