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Concussions with blackouts linked to memory loss

Study involved 28 NFL players who lost consciousness with concussions

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Most people completely recover from a concussion in a matter of days, or weeks. But a new study finds suffering a concussion that causes a blackout may have lasting effects. Researchers at the University of Texas studied 28 former National Football League players. They found players who suffered at least one concussion with a loss of consciousness developed more memory problems later in life.

"This study highlights for us that in athletes, and former athletes with concussion, they're at greater risk for suffering injuries to parts of the brain that are involved in storing and encoding new memories," explained Cleveland Clinic neurologist Dr. Andrew Russman, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers say future studies may pinpoint the reasons why, but they think concussions cause the area of the brain, where memory is stored, to shrink. Russman says the lasting effects of concussion should be considered at the time the injury occurs.

"There can be lasting effects from concussions that occur earlier in life and that we should be aware of this issue when we're considering how aggressively we return to play after a concussion," Russman added.

Complete findings for the study can be found online in the journal JAMA: Neurology.