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With nearly 42 million mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) occurring worldwide every year, understanding the factors that may adversely influence recovery after mTBI is important for developing guidelines in mTBI management. Extensive clinical evidence exists documenting the detrimental effects of elevated temperature levels on recovery after moderate to severe TBI. However, whether elevated temperature alters recovery after mTBI or concussion is an active area of investigation. Individuals engaged in exercise and competitive sports regularly experience body and brain temperature increases to hyperthermic levels and these temperature increases are prolonged in hot and humid ambient environments. Thus, there is a strong potential for hyperthermia to alter recovery after mTBI in a subset of individuals at risk for mTBI. Preclinical mTBI studies have found that elevating brain temperature to 39°C before mTBI significantly increases neuronal death within the cortex and hippocampus and also worsens cognitive deficits. This review summarizes the pathology and behavioral problems of mTBI that are exacerbated by hyperthermia and discusses whether hyperthermia is a variable that should be considered after concussion and mTBI. Finally, underlying pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for hyperthermia-induced altered responses to mTBI and potential gender considerations are discussed.


Coleen M Atkins, Helen M Bramlett, W Dalton Dietrich. Is temperature an important variable in recovery after mild traumatic brain injury? F1000Research. 2017;6:2031

PMID: 29188026

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