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Even without concussion, athletes in contact sports may have brain changes – EurekAlert

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MINNEAPOLIS – Female college rugby players may have subtle brain changes even if they haven’t had a recent concussion, according to a new study published in the June 17, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study compared rugby players to other female college athletes competing in the non-contact sports of swimming and rowing.

“There’s no longer a debate that when an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion caused by a sharp blow or a fall, there is a chance it may contribute to brain changes that could either be temporary or permanent,” said study author Ravi S. Menon, Ph.D., FRSC, of Western University in London, Canada. “But what are the effects of the smaller jolts and impacts that come with playing a contact sport? Our study found they may lead to subtle changes in the brains of otherwise healthy, symptom-free athletes.”

The study involved 101 female college athletes, including 70 who played rugby and 31 who participated in either rowing or swimming. A subset of rugby players were followed for at least two years. Swimmers and rowers were followed for one year.

All athletes were concussion-free six months prior to the start of the study and during the study as well, however some rugby players had a concussion history before the six-month period while non-contact athletes had experienced none.

Some of the athletes wore devices to record head impacts, including 37 rugby players and nine rowers. Measurements from the devices found that while rowers did not experience any impacts, 70% of the rugby players experienced an average of three impacts during two practices and one pre-season game.

“While we only looked at these impacts during a few events during the season, previous research has shown these kinds of subclinical impacts may accumulate over years of participation in contact sports,” said Menon.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of all the athletes during in- and off-season play. With the brain scans, researchers examined how water molecules moved throughout the white matter to determine if there were microstructural brain changes. They also investigated how different areas of the brain communicated with each other and whether there were any changes in how those areas worked together.

In rugby players, researchers found changes in the microstructure of the white matter, including in nerve fibers that connect areas of the brain that control basic emotions like fear, pleasure and anger. In some of the rugby players, the changes progressed over time. Researchers did not find changes in the brains of swimmers or rowers.

Researchers also found that for rugby players only, the microstructure of the brain changed between in- and off-seasons, specifically in the brain stem, which controls the flow of messages between the brain and body.

Researchers found differences in the functional organization of the brain too. When compared to swimmers and rowers, rugby players had changes in connectivity–how the brain communicates–between the areas of the brain that control memory retrieval and visual processing.

“Even with no concussions, the repetitive impacts experienced by the rugby players clearly had effects on the brain,” said Menon. “More research is needed to understand what these changes may mean and to what extent they reflect how the brain compensates for the injuries, repairs itself or degenerates so we can better understand the long-term health effects of playing a contact sport.”

A limitation of the study was that while the rugby athletes did not experience a diagnosed concussion, there may have been undiagnosed concussions that went unnoticed by the coaching staff or undetected by relatively insensitive clinical tools.

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The study was supported by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Brain Canada, Canada First Research Excellence Fund and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Learn more about concussion at BrainandLife.org, home of the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life® on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 36,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contacts:

Renee Tessman, rtessman@aan.com, (612) 928-6137

M.A. Rosko, mrosko@aan.com, (612) 928-6169

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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Here's how to view Comet NEOWISE as it races towards Earth – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Early risers in the northern hemisphere will be treated to a view of a recently identified comet, which has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye, as it hurdles towards Earth.

Comet NEOWISE – technically called C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – was first discovered on March 27 by the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope launched by NASA in 2009.

At the time, astronomers were unsure if the comet would meet a similar fate to other comets before it, such as Comet ATLAS and Comet SWAN, and break apart as it travelled close to the sun and warmed up.

However, it appears Comet NEOWISE survived its closest approach to the sun late last week and is now making its way closer to Earth before it is expected to return to the outer solar system, according to NASA.

The space agency said the comet has become one of the few “naked-eye comets” of the 21st century after it “suddenly” became visible to the unaided eye this week.

“Word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe,” NASA said in the caption of a photo of Comet NEOWISE passing over Lebanon on Sunday, which they shared as their “Astronomy Photo of the Day” on Tuesday.  

Although the future brightness of the comet “remains somewhat uncertain” because there’s still a chance it may break apart and therefore dim, NASA said the comet is likely to continue to be visible in the early morning sky this week and in the early evening sky next week.

According to NASA solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry, Comet NEOWISE is visible at dawn now, but it will be at its highest in the dawn sky around July 11. The comet may be a little tricky to catch, he said, because it will be set against the brightening sky in the northeastern horizon, as opposed to a dark night sky.

However, Comet NEOWISE may become easier to spot later in the month after it gradually dips below the horizon and reappears in the early evening sky around July 12 to 15. When that occurs, it will then be visible at dusk (just after sunset) in the low northwest horizon, Irizarry said.

“If the comet remains relatively bright, it might be easier to see in the second half of July during evening dusk, because, at that time, it will appear somewhat higher in the sky,” he said.

Although it may be difficult for the average stargazer to spot the comet in the early mornings right now, some skilled photographers have already managed to capture the speeding comet and its streaking tail.

Even though some people have been able to spot the Comet NEOWISE without any instruments, Irizarry said most skywatchers would benefit from the use of binoculars or even a good camera.

Irizarry has also published several illustrations detailing the comet’s location in relation to different constellations so interested viewers know where in the sky to look.

On the chance the comet fades later in the month, Irizarry said it’s still a worthwhile endeavor for people to wake up early to try to catch it while it’s in the morning skies.

“It’s still a good idea to get up early in the morning this week and try for a glimpse of comet NEOWISE while it’s still relatively bright, just in case it gets fainter later in the month,” he explained.

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Health authority warns of possible COVID-19 exposure at Vancouver bar and nightclub – Yahoo News Canada

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Vancouver Coastal Health is asking anyone who visited the bar and nightclub areas of the Hotel Belmont in downtown Vancouver on June 27 and 29 to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. 

Someone who tested positive for coronavirus was in those parts of the hotel on those days, the health authority said in a statement Monday.

There is no risk to anyone who visited the hotel outside those dates, the statement added. 

Jasmine Mooney, director of marketing and partner at Hotel Belmont, said protocols are being followed.

“We are working diligently alongside, and following all recommendations from Vancouver Coastal Health, Work Safe BC and The Provincial Health Officer,” she said. 

People who may have been exposed are being told to monitor themselves for 14 days and continue their daily activities.

If they develop symptoms of COVID-19, Vancouver Costal Health is asking that they get tested and immediately self-isolate.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat loss of smell or diarrhea.

The virus is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It can also spread when a healthy person touches an object or surface with the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

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COVID-19: Vancouver bar patrons may have been exposed to virus – Cape Breton Post

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Vancouver Coastal Health is alerting bar patrons who were at Vancouver’s Hotel Belmont a week ago that they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The VCH says individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the hotel’s bar and nightclub on both June 27 and 29.

Bar-goers who patronized the Hotel Belmont, located at the corner of Nelson and Granville streets, on either of those nights are advised to monitor themselves for 14 days.

“As long as they remain healthy and do not develop symptoms, there is no need to self-isolate and they should continue with their usual daily activities. If you have no symptoms, testing is not recommended because it is not accurate or useful,” the VCH said in a statement.

“If you develop any of these symptoms of COVID-19, please seek COVID-19 testing and immediately self-isolate. Please call ahead and wear a mask when seeking testing.”

The VCH said there is no known risk to anyone who attended the Hotel Belmont outside these two dates.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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