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Know Your Code

DNA and Concussion

The relationship of DNA and Head Injury

DNA is the material present in our cells that makes up our genes. Genes carry the instructions our bodies use to function and to repair ourselves.

Throughout life, the brain is subject to various stresses and injurious agents.  Some stresses are chronic, and include poor oxygen delivery to the brain, infectious agents, environmental toxins and even aging.

Other stresses such as concussion are acute.  Concussion is a serious condition that has been linked to multiple long-term health problems including dementia, aggression, depression, epilepsy and symptom’s similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Studies of athletes who have received multiple concussions have shown that there seems to be a relationship between slight genetic variations that occur in certain genes and an athlete’s susceptibility to and recovery from a concussion.

When an athlete suffers a concussion, a chain reaction of events occurs as the body attempts to minimize the damage to brain cells and starts the repair process.

Although classified as a single injury, all concussions are different environmentally (e.g., location and force magnitude of external force); and all athletes are different (e.g., genetic factors).  Therefore, the response to each concussion is unique.

As a result, its important to identify the ‘fingerprint’ of the concussion to optimize the return to play process. This fingerprinting is comprised of recording and cataloguing the precise information about the initial response to the concussion as well as establishing any possible genetic connection between the concussion and particular outcomes.