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Brain Trauma (Diseases and Disorders) by Hal Marcovitz

By Hal Marcovitz

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Many advanced-stage Alzheimer’s patients require round-the-clock care in nursing facilities because eventually their basic cognitive functions are lost—they cannot recall their own names or recognize the faces of loved ones, and in many cases can no longer use utensils to eat, brush their teeth, use the toilet, or bathe themselves. Researchers now believe serious head injury increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, many brain trauma patients start exhibiting similar symptoms at a much younger age than the average onset of Alzheimer’s.

After the game, though, DiBlasi complained of a headache. His parents gave him a Tylenol to ease the pain. Later DiBlasi went to a friend’s house, where he played street hockey. After the game, he started vomiting. His friend’s parents called an ambulance. At the hospital, DiBlasi was diagnosed with a concussion—which came as something of a relief to his parents, who thought his injury could have been much worse. “I started panicking,” said DiBlasi’s father, Rick DiBlasi Sr. ”18 DiBlasi may have avoided a much more severe head injury such as a blood clot because helmets, which can provide at least minimal protection, are standard equipment in ice hockey leagues.

46 Brain Trauma cells, prohibiting the neurons from transmitting messages to one another. In Ali’s case, the repeated blows to his head are believed to have diminished the number of cells in his brain that produce dopamine, the chemical that carries messages from cell to cell. Neurological research has shown that the brain contains many more neurons than it actually needs—it is nature’s way of preserving cognitive abilities as people grow older and lose brain cells during the normal process of aging.

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