A recent study conducted by the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has revealed just how sensitive the brain is to impact. The study measured brain tissue in high school football players and found worrisome changes after only a single season of play. The study sheds more light the development of brain injury and may contribute to keeping sports healthy for young players.
Although the study was conducted south of the border, the results should be of interest to anyone involved in contact sports in Canada.
In the study, 24 young players form a North Carolina high school underwent brain scans before and after the school football season. Since brain injury typically does not show up in traditional MRI scans, researchers drew on a different technique - Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).
Brain Degeneration May Begin As Early As Youth
During play, members were fitted with specially-designed helmets. The protective gear contained sensors that recorded data after each blow to the head - including such factors as the location, direction, and force of a hit.
When the players were scanned again at the end of the season, researchers found results that indicated abnormalities. The integrity of structural white matter deep inside the brain had changed. They also found that the players' brains produced more delta waves at the surface - slow waves which indicate distress and which follow an injury.
While it has been documented that older players suffer from brain degeneration by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the study could help in understanding if the process starts as early as a youth's first impact in contact sports.
Researchers continue their efforts to discover when and how brain degeneration starts. Meanwhile, Gluckstein Lawyers encourages children and youth throughout Canada to play safe and take precautionary measures to guard against injury.
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