Damage to the brain caused by concussion can last for decades after the original head trauma, according to research presented at a AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Annual Meeting in 2013.

The finding comes to light at the same time as 4,000 former football players file lawsuits alleging that the National Football League failed to protect them from the long-term health consequences of concussion.

Concussion causes temporary loss of brain function leading to cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms, such as confusion, vomiting, headache, nausea, depression, disturbed sleep, moodiness, and amnesia.

However, even when the symptoms of a concussion appear to have gone, the brain is still not yet 100 percent normal, according to Dr. MaryseLassonde, a neuropsychologist and the scientific director of the Quebec Nature and Technologies Granting Agency.

Dr. Lassonde previously worked alongside members of the Montreal Canadians hockey team who suffered from severe head trauma, undertaking research into the long-term effects it can have on athletes.

She carried out visual and auditory tests among the athletes who suffered from concussion, as well as testing their brain chemistry, to evaluate the extent of damage to the brain after a severe hit.

The results indicate that there is abnormal brain wave activity for years after a concussion, as well partial wasting away of the motor pathways, which can lead to significant attention problems.

Her findings could have a considerable impact on the regulation of professional sports and the treatment of players who suffer from head trauma. It also highlights the need to prevent violence and aggression in professional sports.

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