Effects of hydration on concussions and cerebrospinal fluid

Proper hydration is crucial for reducing the risk of concussive injuries and their long-term effects in sports-related concussive and repeated subconcussive traumas. Three key factors affect the susceptibility of concussive injury and its long-term effects:

the athlete’s body

changes in
inflammatory signals

alteration to normal
membrane dynamics

Insufficient tissue hydration can weaken neural and connective tissue, increasing the risk of concussion. Dehydration at the time of injury can also elevate biomarkers that trigger inflammation, prolonging recovery from acute issues.

Hydration affects the production and flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Proper hydration helps to maintain the appropriate volume, pressure, composition, and function of CSF, which is important for cushioning the brain and spinal cord, removing waste products, and maintaining the balance of nutrients and electrolytes.

These factors may explain why athletes with dehydration issues have a greater risk of concussion and long-term effects. To reduce this risk, it is important to ensure adequate hydration before, during, and after physical activity.

In addition, even mild dehydration (as little as 2%) can lead to a decrease in performance in physiological areas such as aerobic capacity, strength, power, and reaction time, which increases an athlete's susceptibility to injury.

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Proper hydration is crucial not only for injury prevention but also for optimal athletic performance.

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