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Even one season of football can cause brain damage

Posted on April 23, 2014 in Brain Injury

Many Californians love football at any level – whether Pop Warner, high school, college or the National Football League. Many younger fans would like to pursue their dreams of playing in high school and at the collegiate and professional levels. However, new research is showing that repeated exposure to the type of physical activities displayed in football increases the chances of acquiring a brain injury.

A small study recently reported at an annual scientific meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in California revealed that just a single season of high school football can expose an athlete to a mild traumatic brain injury. The study followed 45 players during their 2012 season. The participants were scanned using specialized MRI imaging before and after the season. Each wore a helmet equipped with an electronic monitoring device that transmitted impact data to researchers during each game.

None of the student athletes sustained a concussion during the study. Still, the study found that the more hits to the head a player receives, the more white matter in the brain changes. Although it is too soon to say whether the changes are permanent, the findings raise some red flags for parents and coaches. Although children play other contact sports, football in particular means the head makes hard contact with other players and the ground many times during a game. This may increase the chances of acquiring a TBI.

Brain injuries can mean long-term emotional, cognitive and physical difficulties. Aside from the possibility of permanent disability, a TBI often requires special treatment and rehabilitation with significant medical costs.

Sports-related brain injuries can be avoided. Limiting the amount of hits and using protective gear can cut the number of these injuries. Negligent coaches, team owners and sports facilitators, however, can also be liable for the development of sports-related brain trauma. Any California resident who has suffered a brain injury due to the negligence or recklessness of another may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries they sustained.

Source: PNJ, “Study: Just one season of hits in high school football may alter brain,” Lisa Esposito, April 9, 2014

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