Professional athletes who experienced repetitive sports concussions are starting to speak out. Research shows how prevalent brain injuries are as these athletes reach retirement.
We are all aware that football is a hard-hitting sport; one could argue that is part of the mass appeal. However, lately, there has been more awareness and attention placed on concussions; of the negative impact on players who experienced repeated hits to the head.
New Research Findings
In April of this year, the American Academy of Neurology hosted its 68th Annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. At this conference, it was revealed that a staggering 40 percent of retired National Football League (NFL) players show signs of traumatic brain injury. (Source: PsyPost)
This study was conducted on 40 retired NFL players using a combination of sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging and testing. Each player was asked to complete a memory/thinking test as the scan was performed. According to this study, each of the NFL players sustained an average of 8.1 concussions throughout their professional careers (that were reported), and 31 percent reported sub-concussive hits. (Source: PsyPost)
What the Research Demonstrated
The MRI scan measured the extent of damage to each of the players' brain white matter, which is what connects various brain regions, based on water molecules in the brain tissue.
The MRI results demonstrated; "Twelve of the former athletes, or 30 percent, showed evidence on traditional MRI of injury to the brain due to disruption of the nerve axons, those parts of nerve cells that allow brain cells to transmit messages to each other." (Source: PsyPost)
The memory/thinking testing revealed; "On the tests of thinking skills, about 50 percent had significant problems on executive function, 45 percent on learning or memory, 42 percent of attention and concentration, and 24 percent of spatial and perceptual function." (Source: PsyPost)
Researchers from the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Florida, concluded that players with longer NFL careers were more likely to have signs of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Conidi, Neurologist (Sports Concussion, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Headache Specialist) stated,
"We found that longer careers placed the athletes at a higher risk of TBI. This research in living players sheds light on the possible pathological changes consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy that may be taking place." (Source: PsyPost)
We hope that more professional athletes will continue to spread awareness on this life changing issue. As always, we will continue to provide you with the latest updates on sports concussions!
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