Xenon gas improves cognitive function (6/20/19 newsletter)


We are pleased to have students from Carleton College interning with Concussion Alliance. Intern contributors this week:

Editor: Galen Moller
Contributors: Eloïse Cowan and Hannah Kennicott.


In the Classroom After Concussion: Best Practices for Student Success is a new online course created by The Center on Brain Injury Research (CBIRT). “Students with brain injury, including concussion, may have ongoing physical symptoms and may struggle with the demands of school. In the Classroom provides helpful information, practical strategies, and resources for educators working with students with brain injury.” The first module of the course is available for a free trial. In an earlier newsletter, the Weekly Concussion Update discussed a study of the online course, which showed positive effects.


A research team led by Dr. Debbie Palmer at Edinburgh Napier University, and funded by the Enduro World Series, examined concussion rates in competitive mountain bikers. While the rates at races were relatively low, women were three times more likely than men to sustain a concussion. Additionally, a third of those who sustained concussions continued to ride. Following the study, the Enduro World Series published two pocket guides in an effort to promote concussion awareness: one for riders and another for organizers and medics. The complete study was published on the Enduro World Series Website.


Mixed martial arts association, UFC, and licensed producer, Aurora Cannabis, have signed an exclusive multi-million dollar partnership to conduct research regarding the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Taking place at UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas, clinical studies performed on current athletes will investigate the effects of CBD on pain management, injury recovery, inflammation, and mental health. While UFC focuses on reinforcing the well-being of their athletes, Chief Executive Terry Booth states that Aurora’s mission is “to launch targeted educational and awareness campaigns, while creating numerous opportunities to accelerate [their] global CBD business”. The article was originally published on MMA Mania.


A study conducted by Elaine C. Thompson et al. found that children who sustained concussions had a more difficult time perceiving speech in a noisy environment compared to a control group. The authors caution that this impaired ability to interpret speech should be considered in a child’s recovery, as it may worsen the academic challenges that a concussion already has the potential to bring. The article was published in Brain Injury.

A recent study found longer recovery times in children who experienced visual dysfunction after concussion compared to those without any visual dysfunction (63 days compared to 39 days). Lead researcher Premkumar Gunasekaran presented his unpublished work at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, which was then reported by MD Magazine.

Dr. Foad Taghdiri et al. found that former professional athletes who sustained multiple concussions during their careers had higher levels of tau in their cerebrospinal fluid. Tau proteins are present throughout the central nervous system, and their dysfunction is associated with several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s. The study was recently published in Neurology.


Researchers from Imperial College London and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz found that the administration of xenon gas shortly after a TBI improved long-term cognitive function and survival in mice. The study showed that xenon gas could prevent early death, late-onset brain damage, and brain inflammation linked to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Currently, no specific drug treatment exists that hinders the development of trauma. However, lead author Dr. Rita Campos-Pires suggests that the xenon gas has the potential to be used on human patients to prevent secondary injuries from developing after head trauma. The complete study was published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia.


The VA released findings from a study that showed that “even mild traumatic brain injury without loss of consciousness was associated with more than a 2-fold increase in the risk of dementia diagnosis.” The cohort study of 350,000 veterans, also found that veterans with a mild traumatic brain injury who experienced loss of consciousness had more than a 3-fold increase in the risk of developing dementia. Initially published in JAMA Neurology in September 2018, the study, by DE Barnes et al., was a joint project of the Kristine Yaffe Lab at the University of California, San Francisco and the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) funded by the VA and the Department of Defense. See the Concussion Alliance Veterans page for treatment resources.

Mental Health

The governor of Texas recently signed into law a “Camo Alert” for missing military members and veterans who have a traumatic brain injury or a mental illness such as PTSD, according to KVUE. The “Camo Alert” will be similar to an Amber Alert, and will activate when the disappearance of a military member “poses a credible threat to the military member’s health and safety or the health and safety of another.” House Bill 833 covers military members who have elected to participate in the alert system; alerts will be handled by the Texas Department of Transportation and appropriate law enforcement agencies which will issue the alert to participating radio and television stations.


An Ivy League-Big Ten Epidemiology of Concussion Study found that the highest rates of concussions were during wrestling competition, with 4.06 concussions per 1000 athletic exposures (AEs) and second highest during football competition, at 3.68 per 1000 AEs. The highest overall concussion rates (competition and practice) were women’s lacrosse (1.35 per 1000 AEs) and football (1.26 per 1000 AEs). Of additional concern, the median number of concussion symptoms was 7, and the time it took for symptom resolution was longer for athletes with seven or more symptoms. The study, by Margot Putukian et al., was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Additional contributors

Concussion Alliance co-founder Malayka Gormally