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Perspective ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Med. | doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00053

Can Sports Medicine Research on Concussion Provide Insight into Traumatic Brain Injuries in Older Adults?

 Tyler A. Wood1*, Steven Morrison2 and  Jacob Sosnoff1
  • 1University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States
  • 2Old Dominion University, United States

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common and serious injuries to older adults. The majority of TBIs in older adults are sustained when the head impacts the ground or other surface during a fall. While several non-modifiable risk factors have been identified for fall-related TBIs in older adults, there still remains a dearth of knowledge surrounding modifiable risk factors. Thus, this significant knowledge gap warrants an investigation into research across disciplines. The sports medicine literature has examined several modifiable risk factors to prevent a mild form of TBI known as concussion. While this research has identified several risk factors, one particular risk factor may have potential implications to fall-related TBIs in older adults. The sports medicine literature has shown that decreased neck strength and slower neck muscle activation are significant predictors for sports-related concussion. Similarly, older adults experience age-related declines to neck muscle strength and muscle activation. Consequently, these age-related declines to the neck musculature may result in the inability of older adults to control their head during a fall, which results in greater impact forces being transmitted to the brain and increases the risk of TBI. This perspective article assesses the sports medicine literature related to the implications of neck strength and muscle activation in sports-related concussion, discusses age-related declines to neck strength and muscle activation, and highlights the potential impact of the neck musculature on fall-related TBIs in older adults.

Keywords: Accidental Falls, head movement, Neck Muscles, Older adult, Traumatic Brain Injury

Received: 07 Aug 2018; Accepted: 05 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Maw Pin Tan, University of Malaya, Malaysia

Reviewed by:

Antony Bayer, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Jennifer Albrecht, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Wood, Morrison and Sosnoff. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Tyler A. Wood, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, United States, tawood2@illinois.edu