Effects Of Football On A Child's Brain: Playing One Season Shows Brain Changes Even Without Concussions

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald October 26, 12:52 am

A child playing one season of football already experiences brain changes even if there are no concussions. A new study highlights that these changes could be harmful to a child's long term health, especially for the younger ones whose brains are still developing.

The study, which was published in the RSNA Radiology journal, looked into 25 children from the ages of 8 to 13 years old who played one season of football. The boys underwent an imaging scan so researchers could check for microstructural changes to their brains.

The boys were also made to wear helmets while playing football that measure each hit that lands on the head. The researchers also took a video of the boys' games to accurately verify these hits. No one from the study's subjects ended up with concussions after one season of football. But their succeeding MRIs showed curious results.

The experts saw that the more head hits the boys incur while playing football, the more microstructural changes happen to their brain. These changes also vary depending on how strong the impact was and since football can get quite physical, many of the boys manifested these brain changes.

These brain changes aren't easy to detect by simply looking or engaging with the child. "If you talk to these players, if you look at their clinical imaging, there's nothing you can identify that's abnormal about them," lead study author Dr. Christopher Whitlow said, per CBS News.

Whether or not this can impact long term health when the kids are adults is still up for further studies. For now, what has been established by the study is that one season of football can already impact the brain. In other words, something already happens.

For younger kids whose brains are still developing, the experts suggest for parents to properly watch their children during practice or games for any incident or impact. "We want to encourage our children to play sports," Whitlow emphasized, per Huffington Post. But the findings should hopefully make parents, schools and sports trainers be more aware so that they can come up with better ways to protect the children from the impact of competitive sports.

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