Recent research suggests that children’s brains suffer significant changes after their first football season, meaning that this career choice might be life-threatening from the start.
Scientists underline that all these kids have never been diagnosed with a concussion, but even so, these changes occur. More precisely, the white matter change rate depended on how many impacts those children suffered during a game.
According to Dr. Christopher Whitlow, lead author from the Wake Fore School of Medicine, this is not the first study which associates head impacts with brain changes. He further added that American football is among the United States contact sports which leads to a staggering percentage of traumatic brain injuries among players.
These findings are critical, especially because they involve children, which might grow up with severe brain malfunctions without knowing the primary cause. These concussions usually led to the degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Whitlow further added that in order to understand what happens with players’ brain health at the end of their career, it is crucial to find the most important clues at the beginning, because these young players are part of the next American generation.
In the study, scientists selected twenty-five young football players with ages from 8 to 13 years. It is worth mentioning that all of them were boys, and a measuring device was attached on their helmets to count the number and intensity of hits the young players received during play.
Before the experiment, researchers took specialized photographs of the boys’ brain to compare them with the ones collected at the end of the season. After analyzing the images, the team discovered significant changes in the white matter of the brain.
Although these players experienced no symptoms related to concussions, scientists concluded that more hits led to more changes. In other words, the less they played football, the fewer changes their brains suffered.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Bazarian, an emergency medicine professor, these findings support other previous studies on concussions. Worse, parents and coaches are not informed about these risks, so they don’t know what they get themselves into.
Scientists will continue their research on these changes to reduce these risks and prevent children from suffering concussions in the future.
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