Today’s health and safety news around football and more:
* According to two studies that will be released in March, NFL players are at a higher risk for depression as they age because of repeated concussions. Yahoo! Medical News reported on the news, which was released Wednesday.
The researchers found a link between the number of concussions athletes sustained and higher scores on a test of depression. These findings suggest that “as the number of concussions increase, the likelihood of expressing depressive symptoms also increases,” said study researcher Nyaz Didehbani, of the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. The symptoms most strongly linked to concussions were feelings of sadness, feelings of guilt and critical self-evaluations, Didehbani said.
The results, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in San Diego in March, come just a week after the same group of researchers reported similar findings in the journal JAMA Neurology. This study found that about 24 percent of retired NFL players suffered from depression, compared with 10 to 15 percent of the general population.
* PBS NewsHour published a Q&A that reporter Betty Ann Bowser had earlier this week with Didehbani and Dr. John Hart.
DR. JOHN HART: Yes, the key difference in our research that we’re looking at live people. I think we need to put a real focus on guys that are alive so that we can figure out whether we prevent these problems. So we’re attempting to link together a number of things: Do you have symptoms, what are the problems, what’s the history and what imaging goes with these factors? And if people have problems, we can then treat them. While CTE is out there in the press a lot because of autopsies of people who committed suicide, I’d like to focus the discussion on: What are people like while they’re alive — what symptoms do they have that we can find early to detect and prevent or treat?
* Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said he expected defensive end John Abraham to start against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game despite suffering an ankle injury last Sunday, according to The Associated Press. The injury was bad enough he had to be helped off the field.
* Doctors said the second broken arm suffered this season by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was a freak accident, the Boston Globe reported.
* ESPN reported that Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol will return Thursday after missing five games with concussion symptoms.
“I feel better and tomorrow I’ll be a go,” Gasol said. “I guess I have to ease my way back into it because this is the first day I’ve actually got some good work done on the court. After a week and a half of inactivity, your body needs a certain amount of time to get back out there and perform at your best.”
Gasol came off the bench and had 12 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. The Heat beat the Lakers, 99-90.
* The Associated Press reported that American tennis player Brian Baker had his comeback derailed at the Australian Open, where he suffered a knee injury. He had been battling through injuries for the past six years.
* The Huffington Post’s Gavin Schulman asked if it’s time to not care about concussions in sports anymore.
* MedicalXpress.com reported on how the risk factors are identified for prolonged concussion symptoms.
* The Keene (N.H.) Sentinel wrote about the concussion issues in its community, not just with high school athletes.
* The Vancouver (British Columbia) Province gave advice for how to avoid cold-weather sports injuries.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor