Reversing brain damage in former NFL players

June 14, 2011

A recent study performed at UC Irvine School of Medicine has implications for anyone with traumatic brain injury. Thirty retired NFL (American Football) players were enrolled in the study; they all suffered from brain damage with cognitive impairment. NFL players were chosen because they commonly suffer from multiple concussions – a form of minor traumatic brain injury.

The study was an open label pragmatic clinical intervention at a outpatient neuropsychiatric clinic. The patients were given supplements known to have neuroprotective effects. Fish Oil capsules (has brain anti-inflammatory effects and helps restore health to the entire terrain of the brain), a high-potency Multiple-Vitamin, Mineral Supplement (ie, B complex vitamins enhance neurotransmitter activity), Gingko biloba and Vinpocetine (both enhance blood flow to and metabolism in the most intellectually advanced regions of the brain), ALCAR and Huperzine A (promote acetylcholine activity and the creation of energy), ALA (improves metabolism and is a powerful universal antioxidant), and NAC (rescues the Cystine Glutamate antiporter to prevent excitotoxicity of neurons – overstimulation that destroys brain cells); all for six-months on average.

In the retest situation, corrected for practice effect, there were statistically significant increases in scores of attention, memory, reasoning, information processing speed and accuracy on the Microcog Assessment of Cognitive Functioning – a timed sensitive cognitive test.

A SPECT Scan is a nuclear scan using gamma rays that gives a 3d model of an internal organ; in this case the brain. All participants had brain SPECT scans. As a group with the SPECT scans, they showed increased brain perfusion, especially in the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobes, occipital lobes, anterior cingulate gyrus and cerebellum. This study demonstrates that cognitive and cerebral blood flow improvements are possible in this group with multiple interventions. The study was published in the January 11th, 2011 issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.