Brain Injury may be Helped by a Supplement

Brain Injury in Football Players

Could a blood test notify people if they are getting into trouble with brain injury? The dosage of a supplement is also being investigated in college football players to see in what dose it helps reduce axonal trauma.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported on a study that stated a blood test could determine outcome of brain injury and a supplement could help with it. The study found that there is a biomarker for traumatic brain injury: neurofilament light, or otherwise known as NFL. The researchers studied 81 football players in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I.

The study was titled “Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid on a Biomarker of Head Trauma in American Football.” Researchers included Oliver JM, Jones MT, Kirk KM, and others. The study basically set out to see if a supplement would lower levels of the biomarker NFL.

The supplement that they used is already known to lower axonal trauma with traumatic brain injury in rat models. The optimal dose in American football players is unknown. So, the researchers also set out to find an optimal dose. The supplement is called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The study had one placebo group and three other groups who received different doses of DHA, and was double-blind.

The American Academy of Pediatrics noticed a couple of caveats to the research. First, the researchers started with 130 players, but were down to 81 by the end of the study. This was due to refusal of informed consent, improper compliance with medication, or injury or concussion. Although the dropouts were spread pretty equally across the four groups, it is still a high dropout rate.

Second, the groups were small, so more studies need to be done to look at the optimal dosing in football players. Third, the researchers did not report the non-starter group, the third-stringers that didn’t get much play time. They were collecting the data anyway, so why they didn’t report it is a mystery. Fourth, the study was funded in part funded by a DHA supplement company. Three of the 10 study authors had financial stake in NFL diagnostic kits. There is a risk that they only reported results that were favorable to these products.

The results of the study showed that irrespective of dose DHA decreased levels of NFL. The results are very preliminary, and more research needs to be done into NFL, DHA, and TBI.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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