Sports-related concussions and subconcussive impacts in athletes: incidence, diagnosis, and the emerging role of EPA and DHA Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Sports-related concussions (SRC) are traumatic brain injuries induced as the result of a biomechanical force to the body that temporarily impair neurological functions. Not all traumatic impacts reach the threshold necessary to produce concussive symptoms; however, the culmination of these events is known as a subconcussive impact (SCI). Athletes who have been diagnosed with a SRC or those who accumulate multiple SCI have exhibited structural damage to the brain, impairments to learning and memory, and an increase in depressive symptoms. This area is rapidly evolving, and current clinical definitions of injury, diagnosis, and treatment of SRC and SCI are reviewed. In tandem, there is also growing research examining the role of nutrition in brain injuries, focusing primarily on n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The potential role of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in reducing inflammation and promoting recovery following brain injury are also reviewed. Overall, advancements in the evaluation of SRC and SCI coupled with n-3 PUFA supplementation show promise in the management of brain injuries, leading to better long-term health outcomes for athletes. Novelty SRC have garnered widespread attention due to the growing body of reported prevalence in youth and professional sports. Current definitions and protocol(s) for diagnosing SRC and SCI have improved, but still require further evaluation. n-3, EPA and DHA, reduce inflammation and promote recovery following brain injuries in experimental models.


  • Lust, Cody AC
  • Mountjoy, Margo
  • Robinson, Lindsay E
  • Oliver, Jonathan M
  • Ma, David WL

publication date

  • August 2020