full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Clifford Robbins: What happens when you have a concussion?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Each year in the United sattes, prlaeys of sports and recreational activities receive between 2.5 and 4 million concussions. How dangerous are all those concussions? The answer is complicated, and lies in how the brain responds when something strikes it. The brain is made of soft fatty tissue, with a consistency something like jello. Inside its protective membranes and the skull's hard casing, this delicate organ is usually well-shielded. But a sdduen jolt can make the brain sihft and bump against the skull's hard interior, and unlike jello, the brain's tssuie isn't uionrfm. It's made of a vast network of 90 bilolin neurons, which relay signals through their long axons to communicate throughout the brain and control our bodies. This spindly structure makes them very firlgae so that when impacted, nuonres will stretch and even tear. That not only disrupts their ability to communicate but as destroyed axons begin to deeagtrene, they also reaesle toxins causing the death of other neurons, too. This cmntobiiaon of events causes a concussion. The damage can manifest in many different ways including blackout, headache, blurry vision, bnaclae problems, altered mood and behavior, problems with mmoery, thinking, and sleeping, and the onset of anxiety and depression. Every biran is different, which explains why people's experiences of concussions vary so widely. Luckily, the majority of concussions fully heal and symptoms daiapespr within a matter of days or weeks. Lots of rest and a gradual return to aicvtity allows the brain to heal itself. On the sbjucet of rest, many people have hread that you're not soseppud to sleep shortly after receiving a concussion because you might slip into a coma. That's a myth. So long as doctors aren't concerned there may also be a more severe brain injury, like a brain bleed, there's no documented problem with going to sleep after a concussion. Sometimes, victims of concussion can experience something cealld post-concussion syndrome, or PCS. People with PCS may eexncepire constant headaches, learning difficulties, and behavioral spmomyts that even affect their peanrsol relationships for months or years after the injury. Trying to play through a concussion, even for only a few minutes, or returning to sropts too soon after a concussion, makes it more likely to develop PCS. In some cases, a concussion can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms unfold slowly over time. That's often true of subconcussive impacts which result from lower impact jolts to the head than those that cause cucinsnosos. This category of injury doesn't cause noticable symptoms right away, but can lead to severe degenerative brain diseases over time if it happens repeatedly. Take seccor players, who are known for repeatedly heading soccer balls. Using a technique called Diffusion toensr Imaging, we're beginning to find out what effect that has on the brain. This method allows scientists to find large axon bundles and see how mdelir blows might alter them structurally. In 2013, researchers using this technuqie discovered that athletes who had headed the ball most, about 1,800 times a year, had damaged the structural integrity of their axon bundles. The damage was simalir to how a rope will fail when the individual fibers srtat to fray. Those players also performed worse on short-term memory tests, so even though no one sfrfeued full-blown concussions, these subconcussive hits aeddd up to measurable damage over time. In fact, researchers know that an overload of subconcussive hits is likned to a degenerative brain daisese known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. People with CTE suffer from changes in their mood and behavior that begin appearing in their 30s or 40s followed by problems with thnkinig and memory that can, in some cases, even rsleut in dementia. The culprit is a pioetrn called tau. Usually, tau proteins soprupt tiny tubes inside our axons called microtubules. It's thughot that repeated subconcussive hits damage the mucluioetbrs, cuanisg the tau proteins to dislodge and cumlp together. The clumps disrupt transport and communication along the nuroen and drive the breakdown of connections within the brain. Once the tau ptiorens start clumping together, they cause more clumps to form and continue to spread throughout the brain, even after head impacts have stopped. The data show that at least among football players, between 50 and 80% of concussions go unreported and untreated. Sometimes that's because it's hard to tell a concussion has occurred in the first place. But it's also often due to presruse or a desire to keep going despite the fact that something's wrong. This doesn't just undermine recovery. It's also dangerous. Our bianrs aren't invincible. They still need us to sielhd them from harm and help them undo damage once it's been done.

Open Cloze

Each year in the United ______, _______ of sports and recreational activities receive between 2.5 and 4 million concussions. How dangerous are all those concussions? The answer is complicated, and lies in how the brain responds when something strikes it. The brain is made of soft fatty tissue, with a consistency something like jello. Inside its protective membranes and the skull's hard casing, this delicate organ is usually well-shielded. But a ______ jolt can make the brain _____ and bump against the skull's hard interior, and unlike jello, the brain's ______ isn't _______. It's made of a vast network of 90 _______ neurons, which relay signals through their long axons to communicate throughout the brain and control our bodies. This spindly structure makes them very _______ so that when impacted, _______ will stretch and even tear. That not only disrupts their ability to communicate but as destroyed axons begin to __________, they also _______ toxins causing the death of other neurons, too. This ___________ of events causes a concussion. The damage can manifest in many different ways including blackout, headache, blurry vision, _______ problems, altered mood and behavior, problems with ______, thinking, and sleeping, and the onset of anxiety and depression. Every _____ is different, which explains why people's experiences of concussions vary so widely. Luckily, the majority of concussions fully heal and symptoms _________ within a matter of days or weeks. Lots of rest and a gradual return to ________ allows the brain to heal itself. On the _______ of rest, many people have _____ that you're not ________ to sleep shortly after receiving a concussion because you might slip into a coma. That's a myth. So long as doctors aren't concerned there may also be a more severe brain injury, like a brain bleed, there's no documented problem with going to sleep after a concussion. Sometimes, victims of concussion can experience something ______ post-concussion syndrome, or PCS. People with PCS may __________ constant headaches, learning difficulties, and behavioral ________ that even affect their ________ relationships for months or years after the injury. Trying to play through a concussion, even for only a few minutes, or returning to ______ too soon after a concussion, makes it more likely to develop PCS. In some cases, a concussion can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms unfold slowly over time. That's often true of subconcussive impacts which result from lower impact jolts to the head than those that cause ___________. This category of injury doesn't cause noticable symptoms right away, but can lead to severe degenerative brain diseases over time if it happens repeatedly. Take ______ players, who are known for repeatedly heading soccer balls. Using a technique called Diffusion ______ Imaging, we're beginning to find out what effect that has on the brain. This method allows scientists to find large axon bundles and see how ______ blows might alter them structurally. In 2013, researchers using this _________ discovered that athletes who had headed the ball most, about 1,800 times a year, had damaged the structural integrity of their axon bundles. The damage was _______ to how a rope will fail when the individual fibers _____ to fray. Those players also performed worse on short-term memory tests, so even though no one ________ full-blown concussions, these subconcussive hits _____ up to measurable damage over time. In fact, researchers know that an overload of subconcussive hits is ______ to a degenerative brain _______ known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. People with CTE suffer from changes in their mood and behavior that begin appearing in their 30s or 40s followed by problems with ________ and memory that can, in some cases, even ______ in dementia. The culprit is a _______ called tau. Usually, tau proteins _______ tiny tubes inside our axons called microtubules. It's _______ that repeated subconcussive hits damage the ____________, _______ the tau proteins to dislodge and _____ together. The clumps disrupt transport and communication along the ______ and drive the breakdown of connections within the brain. Once the tau ________ start clumping together, they cause more clumps to form and continue to spread throughout the brain, even after head impacts have stopped. The data show that at least among football players, between 50 and 80% of concussions go unreported and untreated. Sometimes that's because it's hard to tell a concussion has occurred in the first place. But it's also often due to ________ or a desire to keep going despite the fact that something's wrong. This doesn't just undermine recovery. It's also dangerous. Our ______ aren't invincible. They still need us to ______ them from harm and help them undo damage once it's been done.

Solution

  1. tissue
  2. neurons
  3. shield
  4. degenerate
  5. subject
  6. added
  7. players
  8. milder
  9. fragile
  10. suffered
  11. brains
  12. thinking
  13. states
  14. billion
  15. technique
  16. disease
  17. combination
  18. causing
  19. disappear
  20. concussions
  21. shift
  22. support
  23. neuron
  24. symptoms
  25. memory
  26. sports
  27. pressure
  28. personal
  29. microtubules
  30. balance
  31. start
  32. protein
  33. uniform
  34. sudden
  35. called
  36. activity
  37. thought
  38. experience
  39. proteins
  40. heard
  41. supposed
  42. clump
  43. linked
  44. soccer
  45. brain
  46. tensor
  47. similar
  48. release
  49. result

Original Text

Each year in the United States, players of sports and recreational activities receive between 2.5 and 4 million concussions. How dangerous are all those concussions? The answer is complicated, and lies in how the brain responds when something strikes it. The brain is made of soft fatty tissue, with a consistency something like jello. Inside its protective membranes and the skull's hard casing, this delicate organ is usually well-shielded. But a sudden jolt can make the brain shift and bump against the skull's hard interior, and unlike jello, the brain's tissue isn't uniform. It's made of a vast network of 90 billion neurons, which relay signals through their long axons to communicate throughout the brain and control our bodies. This spindly structure makes them very fragile so that when impacted, neurons will stretch and even tear. That not only disrupts their ability to communicate but as destroyed axons begin to degenerate, they also release toxins causing the death of other neurons, too. This combination of events causes a concussion. The damage can manifest in many different ways including blackout, headache, blurry vision, balance problems, altered mood and behavior, problems with memory, thinking, and sleeping, and the onset of anxiety and depression. Every brain is different, which explains why people's experiences of concussions vary so widely. Luckily, the majority of concussions fully heal and symptoms disappear within a matter of days or weeks. Lots of rest and a gradual return to activity allows the brain to heal itself. On the subject of rest, many people have heard that you're not supposed to sleep shortly after receiving a concussion because you might slip into a coma. That's a myth. So long as doctors aren't concerned there may also be a more severe brain injury, like a brain bleed, there's no documented problem with going to sleep after a concussion. Sometimes, victims of concussion can experience something called post-concussion syndrome, or PCS. People with PCS may experience constant headaches, learning difficulties, and behavioral symptoms that even affect their personal relationships for months or years after the injury. Trying to play through a concussion, even for only a few minutes, or returning to sports too soon after a concussion, makes it more likely to develop PCS. In some cases, a concussion can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms unfold slowly over time. That's often true of subconcussive impacts which result from lower impact jolts to the head than those that cause concussions. This category of injury doesn't cause noticable symptoms right away, but can lead to severe degenerative brain diseases over time if it happens repeatedly. Take soccer players, who are known for repeatedly heading soccer balls. Using a technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging, we're beginning to find out what effect that has on the brain. This method allows scientists to find large axon bundles and see how milder blows might alter them structurally. In 2013, researchers using this technique discovered that athletes who had headed the ball most, about 1,800 times a year, had damaged the structural integrity of their axon bundles. The damage was similar to how a rope will fail when the individual fibers start to fray. Those players also performed worse on short-term memory tests, so even though no one suffered full-blown concussions, these subconcussive hits added up to measurable damage over time. In fact, researchers know that an overload of subconcussive hits is linked to a degenerative brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. People with CTE suffer from changes in their mood and behavior that begin appearing in their 30s or 40s followed by problems with thinking and memory that can, in some cases, even result in dementia. The culprit is a protein called tau. Usually, tau proteins support tiny tubes inside our axons called microtubules. It's thought that repeated subconcussive hits damage the microtubules, causing the tau proteins to dislodge and clump together. The clumps disrupt transport and communication along the neuron and drive the breakdown of connections within the brain. Once the tau proteins start clumping together, they cause more clumps to form and continue to spread throughout the brain, even after head impacts have stopped. The data show that at least among football players, between 50 and 80% of concussions go unreported and untreated. Sometimes that's because it's hard to tell a concussion has occurred in the first place. But it's also often due to pressure or a desire to keep going despite the fact that something's wrong. This doesn't just undermine recovery. It's also dangerous. Our brains aren't invincible. They still need us to shield them from harm and help them undo damage once it's been done.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
subconcussive hits 3
tau proteins 3
degenerative brain 2
axon bundles 2

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. activities
  3. activity
  4. added
  5. affect
  6. alter
  7. altered
  8. answer
  9. anxiety
  10. appearing
  11. athletes
  12. axon
  13. axons
  14. balance
  15. ball
  16. balls
  17. beginning
  18. behavior
  19. behavioral
  20. billion
  21. blackout
  22. bleed
  23. blows
  24. blurry
  25. bodies
  26. brain
  27. brains
  28. breakdown
  29. bump
  30. bundles
  31. called
  32. cases
  33. casing
  34. category
  35. causing
  36. chronic
  37. clump
  38. clumping
  39. clumps
  40. coma
  41. combination
  42. communicate
  43. communication
  44. complicated
  45. concerned
  46. concussion
  47. concussions
  48. connections
  49. consistency
  50. constant
  51. continue
  52. control
  53. cte
  54. culprit
  55. damage
  56. damaged
  57. dangerous
  58. data
  59. days
  60. death
  61. degenerate
  62. degenerative
  63. delicate
  64. dementia
  65. depression
  66. desire
  67. destroyed
  68. develop
  69. diagnose
  70. difficulties
  71. diffusion
  72. disappear
  73. discovered
  74. disease
  75. diseases
  76. dislodge
  77. disrupt
  78. disrupts
  79. doctors
  80. documented
  81. drive
  82. due
  83. effect
  84. encephalopathy
  85. events
  86. experience
  87. experiences
  88. explains
  89. fact
  90. fail
  91. fatty
  92. fibers
  93. find
  94. football
  95. form
  96. fragile
  97. fray
  98. fully
  99. gradual
  100. hard
  101. harm
  102. head
  103. headache
  104. headaches
  105. headed
  106. heading
  107. heal
  108. heard
  109. hits
  110. imaging
  111. impact
  112. impacted
  113. impacts
  114. including
  115. individual
  116. injury
  117. integrity
  118. interior
  119. invincible
  120. jello
  121. jolt
  122. jolts
  123. large
  124. lead
  125. learning
  126. lies
  127. linked
  128. long
  129. lots
  130. luckily
  131. majority
  132. manifest
  133. matter
  134. measurable
  135. membranes
  136. memory
  137. method
  138. microtubules
  139. milder
  140. million
  141. minutes
  142. months
  143. mood
  144. myth
  145. network
  146. neuron
  147. neurons
  148. noticable
  149. occurred
  150. onset
  151. organ
  152. overload
  153. pcs
  154. people
  155. performed
  156. personal
  157. place
  158. play
  159. players
  160. pressure
  161. problem
  162. problems
  163. protective
  164. protein
  165. proteins
  166. receive
  167. receiving
  168. recovery
  169. recreational
  170. relationships
  171. relay
  172. release
  173. repeated
  174. repeatedly
  175. researchers
  176. responds
  177. rest
  178. result
  179. return
  180. returning
  181. rope
  182. scientists
  183. severe
  184. shield
  185. shift
  186. shortly
  187. show
  188. signals
  189. similar
  190. sleep
  191. sleeping
  192. slip
  193. slowly
  194. soccer
  195. soft
  196. spindly
  197. sports
  198. spread
  199. start
  200. states
  201. stopped
  202. stretch
  203. strikes
  204. structural
  205. structurally
  206. structure
  207. subconcussive
  208. subject
  209. sudden
  210. suffer
  211. suffered
  212. support
  213. supposed
  214. symptoms
  215. syndrome
  216. tau
  217. tear
  218. technique
  219. tensor
  220. tests
  221. thinking
  222. thought
  223. time
  224. times
  225. tiny
  226. tissue
  227. toxins
  228. transport
  229. traumatic
  230. true
  231. tubes
  232. undermine
  233. undo
  234. unfold
  235. uniform
  236. united
  237. unreported
  238. untreated
  239. vary
  240. vast
  241. victims
  242. vision
  243. ways
  244. weeks
  245. widely
  246. worse
  247. wrong
  248. year
  249. years