Football and the Brain

Despite the risk for head injury football is a longstanding staple of high school athletics.

But new research cautions that kids who play only a single season of this contact sport may experience brain changes that could signal mild traumatic brain injury.

Speaking at a meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons the study authors discussed the results of a brain investigation, involving a team of 45 high school football players. Throughout their 2012 season, all players were outfitted with special helmet sensors that kept track of head impacts. Players also underwent brain scans both before and after their season. In the end, the players emerged concussion-free but not home-free. A data analysis revealed that head impacts throughout the year had, in fact, produced significant abnormalities in the white matter tissue of the students’ brains. This type of brain change has previously been associated with mild traumatic brain injury.

Which raises concerns that even in the absence of concussions contact sports could still place student athletes’ brains in harm’s way.

I’m Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news for you and your family.

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