Mice showed symptoms of a rodent version of a concussion, damaged blood-brain barriers and leaky blood vessels, after undergoing sudden, strong jerking of their heads. You don’t need concussions to permanently damage the brain.

Using young male mice, they applied relatively mild jolts, designed to result in a sudden, strong jerking of their heads, much as occurs during head-to-head tackles and other impacts. Afterward, some animals showed symptoms of a rodent version of a concussion, stumbling and performing poorly on memory tests.

The scientists then injected some animals with a dye that cannot cross a healthy blood-brain barrier and scanned the living animals’ brains. In about half of the mice, they saw signs of the dye in their brains, indicated that their blood-brain barriers had become permeable. Many of the mice also showed signs of leaky blood vessels and other damage, including inflammation and disruptions in the electrical activity within their brains.

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