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Studies Reveal Traumatic Brain Injury Risks in Contact Sports

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Occurs After Just One Year of Contact Sports

traumatic brain injuryA new study shows that after just one year of contact sports, brain changes that can lead to mild traumatic brain injury show up in players, even if the player did not suffer a concussion.

The study was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The study looked at the cumulative effects of head impacts as they relate to brain changes in the absence of a concussion, and concluded that a single season of a contact sport like football can lead to mild traumatic brain injury.

The study followed 45 players in 2012 who were part of a high school football team, none of whom experienced a clinical concussion. Each player had a Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) for the games, and had a pre- and post-season MRI. The helmet sensors took data used to measure cumulative head impact exposure.

The study concluded that just one season of contact sports can produce measurable changes in the brain.

Other recent studies into traumatic brain injury suggest that even mild untreated concussions can cause problems later in life, such as dementia, encephalopathy, and depression. One recent study , led by a team of British researchers and based on four decades of research on traumatic brain injury patients in Sweden, defines “premature death” as dying before the age of 56. The study showed that patients who survived the short-term effects of traumatic brain injury were more likely to die years later, from suicide or another accident.

Study Shows Off Season Might Not Be Long Enough to Heal Traumatic Brain Injury

A second study of professional football players showed that the off season might not be long enough for concussed players to heal mild traumatic brain injuries.

“We followed athletes at the beginning of football season, after and for six months later,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bazarian, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in Rochester, N.Y.

His study found that, even after six months, white matter changes associated with traumatic brain injury persisted in the players. “When we looked at players individually, there were a few that looked like they did resolve,” he said, but half of the players still showed changes at the six-month mark.

“We didn’t see these changes in those who don’t play football,” he said. “And these are the kinds of changes that are being found in retired NFL players.”

Bazarian evaluated 10 Division III college football players and five college students who did not play sports during the 2011-2012 season. All 15 had brain imaging, underwent a series of cognitive tests before the season, and six months after the end of the season. Football players had accelerometers attached to their helmets as part of the study, and while the total head impacts for the season ranged from 431 to 1,850, none of the players were diagnosed with a concussion.

“Inflammation may be at play,” Bazarian said. “If that’s the case, maybe it’s a case of preventing inflammation. Maybe more than six months of rest is needed.”

The Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm

All kinds of accidents can cause traumatic brain injury. Some of the most common are automobile accidents, work accidents, or defective products. For many victims, traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. According to statistics from the CDC, 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injury every year, and 52,000 of those sufferers die from complications.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an automobile accident or a defective product, it is not too late to get help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the incident that led to traumatic brain injury and determine if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.



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