Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | head | impact | brain | changes | football | players

Head Impact Causes Brain Changes in High School Football Players

Head Impact Causes Brain Changes in High School Football Players

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By    |   Monday, 28 November 2016 11:53 AM


Brain changes can be seen in high school football players after only one season, says a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. MRI scans found changes in both gray and white matter that correlated with head impacts.


"It's important to understand the potential changes occurring in the brain related to youth contact sports," said study leader Elizabeth Moody Davenport, Ph.D.


"We know that some professional football players suffer from a serious condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE," she said. "We are attempting to find out when and how that process starts, so that we can keep sports a healthy activity for millions of children and adolescents."


The study included 24 players from a high school football team in North Carolina, each of whom wore a helmet outfitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) during all practices and games. The helmets are lined with six accelerometers, or sensors, that measure the magnitude, location, and direction of a hit. Data can be uploaded to a computer for analysis.


"We saw changes in these young players' brains on both structural and functional imaging after a single season of football," Davenport said.


For the study, players underwent pre- and post-season imaging by a specialized MRI scan which could measure the brain's white matter, structural changes in white matter, and changes in function.


None of the players had experienced a concussion during the study. When researchers compared results of the MRIs with the information provided by the sensors in the helmets, they found that those who had been subjected to greater head impacts showed the greatest changes measured by the MRIs. The differences were similar to those seen in car crashes.


Additional studies involving more participants followed over a longer period of time is needed to understand if the changes are permanent. "It is difficult to know the long-term effects of these changes," Davenport said. "We don't know if the brain's developmental trajectory is altered, or if the off-season time allows for the brain to return to normal."


Recent publicity has heightened public awareness of the long-term results of brain injuries in professional football players. Large numbers of players complain of memory loss as they age.


Former quarterback Joe Namath, 73, says he has brain damage from concussions he experienced playing football. Brett Favre, 47, has revealed he also has severe memory loss as a result of his 20-year career.


According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, football is the No. 1 high school participation sport in the U.S. with more than 1 million playing in the 2015-2016 school year.
 

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Brain changes can be seen in high school football players after only one season, says a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. MRI scans found changes in both gray and white matter that correlated with head impacts. It's important to understand...
head, impact, brain, changes, football, players
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Monday, 28 November 2016 11:53 AM
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