Concussions are the biggest hype in social media and sports today on a national level. Parents are getting more and more worried about their children playing football because of the possibility of a head injury and or possible brain damage.

Rob Gronkowski “Gronk”, former NFL player who played tight end for the past nine seasons for the New England Patriots and future Hall of Famer, claims that during his NFL career he sustained at least 20 concussions and has lost consciousness at least five times.

Concussions are the biggest hype in social media and sports today on a national level. Parents are getting more and more worried about their children playing football because of the possibility of a head injury and or possible brain damage.

Rob Gronkowski “Gronk”, former NFL player who played tight end for the past nine seasons for the New England Patriots and future Hall of Famer, claims that during his NFL career he sustained at least 20 concussions and has lost consciousness at least five times. “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) induced by an impulsive force transmitted to the head resulting from a direct or indirect impact to the head, face, neck or elsewhere.”1 When a concussion occurs it can have a major impact on the visual system. The most common eye-related complaints are blurry vision, dry eye, double vision, headaches, visual-motor sensitivity, trouble focusing or reading, sensitivity to light and abnormal eye movements. When an individual suffers a concussion it is very important to have a comprehensive eye examination with follow-ups. A concussion can occur in any sport, but having multiple concussions can lead to severe brain damage and or death. Second impact syndrome is the “occurrence of rapid cerebral edema after a second head injury that is sustained while an individual is still recovering from symptoms caused by a prior concussion.”2 It is a rare and severe condition that can lead to severe brain swelling and or death. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative brain disease that is found in military personal, athletes or anyone who has multiple blows to the head. CTE has been diagnosed in people “who had a history of repeated subconcussive head impacts and did not have any known history of concussion.”3 Researches believe that the more years a person has repeated subconcussive head impacts or other brain injuries, the higher the chance they have of getting CTE.”4

According to Rob Gronkowski, he truly believes that he has “cured” his CTE by using cannabidiol known as CBD, which is a non-psychoactive chemical derived from the cannabis plant. Since it is non-psychoactive it will not get someone high or euphoric and will not appear in a drug test. CBD comes in either as a topical cream or ointment and even as hemp oil that can be applied to the body to help with relaxation/calmness and for pain management such as backaches or osteoarthritis. CBD can be found in health food stores, coffee shops, beauty salons, etc. Since Rob Gronkowski has used CBD cream for many reasons to different parts of the body and has helped him remain in the game and relieve his pain he is a firm believer on this product and wants to remove CBD from being banned in the NFL. Some CBD, none of which Rob Gronkowski has used, has added THC in it which would be illegal to use in any professional sports setting.

This talk about CBD reminds me of the debate of marijuana usage and the treatment of glaucoma. There have been many studies showing that smoking marijuana can lower intraocular (IOP) pressure in both normal individuals and also ones with glaucoma. However, the lowering of IOP only occurs for a few hours so in order for it to be truly effective would be to smoke marijuana every 2-4 hours each day. If this was done an individual would be high all day and have altered thinking and judgment so it is not recommended for the treatment of lowering IOP in glaucoma. According to neurologists and concussion experts, there is currently no treatment of CTE today. There is ongoing research on the case to try and find biomarkers to use in the living since the only way to diagnose CTE is once someone passes away through tissue analysis of the brain.


References:

  1. SA Herring, JA Bergfeld, A Boland. Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) and the team physician: a consensus statement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006 Feb; 38(2):395-9.
  2. Saunders RL, Harbaugh RE. Second impact in catastrophic contact-sports head trauma. JAMA. 1984;252(4):538-539.
  3. McKee A, Stern RA, Nowinski C, et al. The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Brain. 2013;136(pt 1):43-64. doi:10.1093/brain/aws307
  4. McKee AC, Alosco ML, Huber BR. Repetitive head impacts and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2016;27(4):529-535. doi:10.1016/j.nec.2016.05.009