March 2, 2018

Winter Olympians Face Same Brain Injury Risks as Boxers and Football Players

By Kelley Luckstein


Boxing and football have been increasingly scrutinized for risks of brain trauma — winter sports, not so much. Athletes and physicians have increasingly raised concerns about concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in some sports. But for many years, winter athletes were less cautious about a knock to the head than they are now. ... According to Mayo Clinic researcher Kevin Bieniek, consecutive blows are thought to shear blood vessels around sulfi, folds in the brain, releasing proteins and instigating an inflammatory response. Normally this aids recovery. Ad nauseum, it toxifies the brain. “You start to get this aggregation of this protein called tau. It’s a protein that’s found in everybody’s brain. It normally functions to stabilize these processes,” Bieniek told Seeker. But with regular hits, “it builds up, forming aggregates, and it eventually leads to neurodegeneration.”

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Context: Dr. Kevin Bieniek is a neuroscientist and research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. His research focuses on the neuropathology of frontotemporal dementia, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Contact:Kevin Punsky

Tags: brain trauma, Dr. Kevin Bieniek, Mayo Clinic in the News, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Neurology,

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