In recent years, researchers have been paying more attention to the effects of repeated blows to the head suffered by football players and other athletes explains a New York City brain injury lawyer.
For example, some retired football players have developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated brain trauma. The trauma can result not only from concussions, but also from subconcussive blows – hits to the head that may not lead to symptoms or concussion diagnoses, but nevertheless affect the brain when they occur repeatedly over time.
Recent findings from high school football players
Along with investigating older players with years of brain trauma, researchers are turning their attention to younger people. In studying teenagers who play football, we can hopefully better understand how brain trauma, including subconcussive blows, starts to already affect the brain from the beginning.
One study recently reported in Forbes shows that even after only one season of playing football, the high school students generally showed changes both in brain structure and functioning as a result of repeated blows to the head, even when they weren’t diagnosed with a concussion. Although wearing a helmet is critical, especially for lowering the chances of severe acute injuries, a helmet doesn’t guard against such effects.
This study has limitations, and more research is necessary. However, it joins a growing body of work that raises questions about how well-informed young athletes and their parents are about the risks they face on the football field. It’s possible that as a result of such research, schools and medical practitioners will keep better track of the sport’s cognitive effects, starting with baseline measures of cognitive functioning that get retested as each season unfolds.
We don’t yet have enough information to say whether there’s a link between the effects of subconcussive blows experienced in youth, and the neurological problems people may face later in life. We do, however, need to exercise caution and ensure that coaches and athletics programs are prioritizing students’ safety. Athletes need to receive proper medical treatment and the appropriate cognitive evaluations.
If you’d like to discuss this issue further, particularly if you or your child has suffered brain trauma, don’t hesitate to contact a reputable brain injury lawyer. We are available to discuss your concerns and assist you with your case.