MRI scans show that repetitive blows to the head results in brain changes among youth football players, according to a new study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Football has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years due to growing concerns over the long-term consequences of repetitive head impacts. Players who show signs of concussion are typically removed from games, but many hits to the head are subconcussive – or below the threshold of a concussion – and, therefore, don’t cause any immediate symptoms. There is rising concern that youth football players who experience these collisions in practices and games may be vulnerable to their effects.
“The years from age 9 to 12 are very important when it comes to brain development,” said study lead author Jeongchul Kim, Ph.D., from Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. “The functional regions of the brain are starting to integrate with one another, and players exposed to repetitive brain injuries, even if the amount of impact is small, could be at risk.”