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Kids & Family

(BPT) - There's been a lot of attention recently on the effects of sports-related brain injuries. However, PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA), a neurologic condition that causes uncontrollable, sudden outbursts of crying and/or laughing in people with brain injuries or certain neurologic conditions, is absent from the dialogue. An estimated 7 million Americans suffer from PBA, but awareness is low and many people don't know they have it.

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Football players at risk of neurological disorders

A recent survey from the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund assessed the prevalence and impact of PBA symptoms in former professional football players. Ninety-nine percent of all players had experienced head trauma or injury during their football career. And more concerning is that a third of these players admit to experiencing symptoms consistent with PBA; and most were unaware that PBA symptoms may result from head injury. PBA is not limited to sports-related brain injury; it can also occur in people with brain injuries from other causes like car accidents or falls, or certain other neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or multiple sclerosis.

PBA episodes may occur several times a day and last from seconds to minutes, can be exaggerated or don't usually match what a person is feeling on the inside, and can occur spontaneously, often with no clear trigger.

Additional findings from the survey include:

* The majority of the former players surveyed were aware of symptoms like memory loss (73 percent), difficulty thinking (60 percent), and headache (60 percent) as a result of brain injury. However, few were aware of PBA-like symptoms.

* Among former players surveyed with PBA-like symptoms, the greatest impact of these symptoms appears to be on spending time with family, maintaining a marriage, working and being able to participate in social activities.

* Only 16 percent of former players reporting any PBA-like symptoms had discussed their symptoms with a health care professional, and just over half of them received any diagnosis or explanation for their symptoms.

* Common reasons for not reporting crying or laughing episodes to a physician were "thought it was just depression" (29 percent) or "too embarrassed to mention" (25 percent).

"People who suffer from PBA may find their symptoms challenging, and suffer an emotional toll. PBA can negatively impact social interactions, and sometimes these crying or laughing episodes are so interpersonally disruptive for people that they may interfere with their normal activities," says Dr. Greg O'Shanick, National Medical Director Emeritus of the Brain Injury Association of America. "The good news is PBA is treatable. People who have, or think they may have PBA should talk to their doctor about ways to manage their symptoms."

For more information about PBA and the survey visit www.TacklePBA.org or talk to your doctor.

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