Tags: dyslexia | gene | concussions | study

Dyslexia Gene Linked to Lower Risk of Concussions, Study Suggests

A football helmet and doctors hand holding a stethoscope on the crown of the helmet
A gene linked with dyslexia may make some athletes less susceeptible to concussions, according to a recent study of football players. (Steven Cukrov/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Monday, 29 October 2018 11:35 AM

A gene linked to dyslexia may make some athletes less susceptible to concussions, according to a study published last week in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Researchers have long been intrigued by the topic of concussion, and the longterm impact it may have on the brain, but never before have they looked at how a gene associated with a learning disability could fit into the puzzle.

In a study of 87 varsity football players, experts from Penn State University and Northwestern Medicine decided to further explore the genotype KIAA0319, which is associated with dyslexia, and the role it played in concussion or mild traumatic brain injury in athletes of high-impact sports such as football.

They discovered that athletes with the specific gene variant related to dyslexia were less likely to suffer from concussion injuries than those who did not have the gene type.

"This suggests that genotype may play a role in your susceptibility for getting a concussion," co-corresponding author Dr. Hans Breiter said in a statement. "If replicated, this information may be important to parents."

The reason may be in how the brain is wired.

"In dyslexia, you tend to have less defined wiring for processing spoken and written language," Breiter said. "Dyslexics have a problem with that. Their wiring is more diffuse in this system. Future studies could directly test if diffuse wiring is better able to absorb a shock wave than clearly defined wiring."

The study forms part of a larger project in the Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium, which studies the neuroscience of head impacts in athletes.

The findings have significant implications.

"This finding raises the question: are their particular factors we can determine that put players at higher risk, and should those players be placed in sports that don't have the potential for head trauma?" said co-first author Amy Herrold.

Research has previously suggested that even a mild concussion could increase a patient’s risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 56 percent.

Evidence is increasingly showing a link between repetitive brain trauma sustained from high impact sports and the development of the degenerative brain disorder, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Time noted.

According to the report, up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. each year and, as experts continue to explore the a relationship between high impact sports and CTW, other studies such as the one conducted by Penn State University and Northwestern Medicine, could help expand the topic.

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A gene linked to dyslexia may make some athletes less susceptible to concussions, according to a study published last week in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
dyslexia, gene, concussions, study
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2018-35-29
Monday, 29 October 2018 11:35 AM
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