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Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries In Football – Brains Change After Just One Season

According to a new study presented at the 82nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Francisco, playing just one season of football can cause high school players to have mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and alter their brains. *Source: http://consumer.healthday.com (Just One Season of Hits in High School Football May Alter Brain: Study)

The small study was headed by Alexander K. Powers, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.; the study followed 45 players from a local high school during the 2012 season.  All players had an MRI imaging study of their brains before and after the season.  The players also wore a Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) that transmitted real-time data to researchers on the sidelines.  All of the hits during every practice and game were captured by the helmets.

Related: Research Shows Brain Functions May Be Impacted During Football Season

None of the 45 players sustained concussions during the season, but their brains changed as the season progressed.  The MRI scans showed that the more hits the players sustained, the more the white matter of the players’ brains changed.  The white matter provides the essential connectivity of the brain. It unites different regions in the brain into different networks that perform various mental operations.  Therefore, when white matter is damaged, there is a disturbance of normal mental function.

Although the study still has to undergo peer review, a process where experts in the field checks the research and see if the study meets necessary standards before it is accepted, the results are alarming in that the brain can still change by playing just one season of football.

Traumatic brain injury awareness has been on the rise in recent years.  The NFL was sued by many retired football players alleging that the NFL hid the dangers of concussions, which can lead to permanent brain injuries in players.  Further, there have been numerous news reports of high school football players who died from head injuries sustained while playing the game.

More: What College Football Players Should Know About Hits, Concussions & Brain Injury

Minimizing Traumatic Brain Injuries In High School Football Players

In order to protect high school football players from sustaining a traumatic brain injury, hits in practice need to be limited.  Further, players need to know how to properly tackle other players. If the players are not properly taught by their coaches, other players are in danger of sustaining a head injury.  Lastly, coaches need to know and recognize the signs of a concussion.  A player with a concussion who is sent back into the game without proper medical evaluation will likely sustain a traumatic brain injury if he is hit again.  In such cases, the coaches and the school may be liable for the player’s injuries.

Help After Sustaining A Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

If you or someone you love sustained a brain injury while playing football due to the coach or the school’s negligence, you have legal rights and may be able to recover financial compensation.  A traumatic brain injury impacts the injured individual for the rest of his life.  The personal injury lawyers at White and Williams can help. Call 877.944.8396 for a FREE consultation.


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