Repeated concussions can thicken the skull

Summary: Repeated concussions thicken the bone structure of the skull. Researchers believe that thickening of the skull may occur as the body tries to better protect the brain from subsequent damage.

source: Monash University

New research finds that repeated concussions can thicken the bone structure of the skull. Previous studies have shown brain damage after a concussion, but they have not looked at the protective covering of the brain.

A study led by Monash published in the journal Scientific Reports By Associate Professor Bridget Semple of the Department of Neuroscience at Monash University Central Clinical School, it was found that repeated concussions resulted in thicker, denser bones in the skull.

It is unclear whether this thickness of the skull is a good or a bad thing. In theory, a thicker skull is a stronger skull, suggesting that this may be the bones’ attempt to protect the brain from subsequent influences.

“This is kind of a puzzle,” Associate Professor Semple said. “As we know, frequent concussions can have negative consequences for brain structure and function. Regardless, concussions are never a good thing.”

The team hopes that researchers in the field will now look at the microstructural changes in the skull caused by concussions in order to better understand how concussions affect the whole body.

Concussion is a form of mild brain injury, and repeated concussions have been linked to long-term neurological consequences.

Most studies focus on understanding how these head injuries affect the brain and its function – but largely ignore the bones of the skull that protect the brain.

This shows a head with radiant circles around it
It is unclear whether this thickness of the skull is a good or a bad thing. The image is in the public domain

Although bone is often considered a structural component of the human body, bones are actually active living tissues that can respond to applied mechanical forces.

Study collaborator Professor Melinda Fitzgerald, from Curtin University and the Byron Institute in Western Australia, has previously shown that repeated concussive shocks lead to minor memory problems, and evidence of brain damage.

In this new study, high-resolution neuroimaging and tissue staining techniques were used in a preclinical model, revealing an increase in bone thickness and density, close to the site of injury.

“We ignored the potential impact of the skull on how concussive shocks affect the brain,” said Professor Semple.

“These new findings highlight that the skull may be an important factor influencing the consequences of recurrent concussions in individuals.”

Future studies are planned, with collaborator and orthopedic expert Professor Natalie Sims of St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, to understand whether a thickened skull from repeated concussions alters the transmission of traumatic force across the skull to the weakened brain tissue underneath.

About this concussion research news

author: press office
source: Monash University
Contact: Press Office – Monash University
picture: The image is in the public domain

original search: open access.
Time-dependent local responses of rat cranial bone to repetitive mild traumatic brain injuryWritten by Larissa K. Dill et al. Scientific Reports

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Time-dependent local responses of rat cranial bone to repetitive mild traumatic brain injury

While it is well known that bones respond dynamically to mechanical loading, the effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on skull bone formation are unclear.

We hypothesized that mTBI repeat (rmTBI) would alter the microstructure of the skull bones, without total skull fractures.

To address this, Piebald Viral Glaxo rats received images, 1×, 2× or 3× closed-head mTBI delivered at 24-h intervals, using a specially designed weight loss device for the reproducible effect.

Skull bones were collected at 2 or 10 weeks after the final injury/pseudo procedure, imaged by micro-computed tomography and analyzed in preselected regions of interest. In the interparietal bone, close to the site of injury, modest increases in bone thickness were observed at 2 weeks, especially after 2× and 3× mTBI.

By 10 weeks, 2 × mTBI caused a strong increase in interparietal bone volume and thickness, along with a similar decrease in the volume of medullary cavities in the duplex area. In contrast, neither the parietal nor the frontal skull samples were affected by rmTBI.

Our findings demonstrate the time- and location-dependent effects of rmTBI on skull bone structure, highlighting the need to consider microstructural alterations of skull bone when evaluating the consequences of rmTBI.

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