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Research Briefs

Head games
Over the course of a season, some college athletes who take part in contact sports may experience a decline in cognitive ability, according to research led by Thomas McAllister, M.D. (D'75, Med'78), a professor of psychiatry. The study, published in Neurology, compared students who played football or hockey to those who participated in noncontact sports. The athletes were given cognitive tests before and after a season. Of those who played hockey or football, 22% had a significantly lower score at the end of the season, compared to 4% of those from noncontact sports. McAllister concluded that "there may be a subgroup of athletes for whom repetitive head impacts affect learning and memory at least on a temporary basis."

The long, long view
Gregg Meyer, M.D., the chief clinical officer at DH, examined almost 200 years of data on health-care spending and mortality rates from Massachusetts General Hospital. From the early 19th century through the Great Depression, the cost per patient changed little (in constant 2010 dollars). By the early 1960s, costs started to increase rapidly, but that increase corresponded to a drop in patient mortality rates, a relationship that continued to the turn of the century. Since 2001, however, mortality rates have remained steady even as costs per patient have skyrocketed. "Close examination of our past clarifies just how daunting is the challenge we face today," Meyer wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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