A new study concluded that amateur football-related injuries can cause long-term problems such as depression, cognitive deficiencies and decision-making difficulties. All of these health disorders are triggered by the repeated concussions suffered by the players during the matches.
A team of researchers from the University of Boston analyzed a sample of 93 former players of amateur football. Their ages ranged from 24 to 82 years old. The team focused on the frequency of subconcussive hits that players received during matches and any health or mental health issue that the patients developed because of those blows.
A subconcussive hit is a forceful blow that a player receives in the field. The trauma is powerful enough to shake the individual, but not to cause a concussion. This type of bumps is very common in the world of amateur football.
Because none of the players kept a “hits” journal, the scientists estimated an approximate number of impacts sustained by a player during his career by factoring some variables. The position in which the patient played, the total number of seasons he was active, impact frequency data gathered from previous studies and the level of play were all used to generate an approximate number of times in which the patient received a subconcussive blow to the head.
After they had established the “Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Index,” which was an average of 7,742 for all of the former players, the researchers started to test the levels of physical and mental health of the participants.
It seems that the volunteers who measured higher CHII scores were more likely to suffer from mood, cognitive and behavioral effects than those who got hit less on the field.
The team of researchers managed to establish some impact thresholds to compute better the existing levels of risk. It seems that the minimum risk level is of 6,500 blows. If the level increases to 12,000, then the individual is 25 times more likely to develop cognitive difficulties.
But the scientists do advise caution because the sample was small. The thresholds cannot be used to determine player safety.
Robert Stern, a Boston University neurology professor, advises players that amateur football-related injuries can cause long-term problems no matter the frequency of the blows.
The thresholds were indeed established after a scientific study, but the sample was small. Even more, no two bodies react in the same way when confronted with an exterior factor. So under no circumstance should players used the thresholds as guidelines.
The conclusion is that amateur football-related injuries can cause long-term problems, but advising caution is redundant in this sport.
Image source: Wikimedia
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