By On March 7th, 2013

Sub-Concussive Hits Are Causing Serious Brain Damage

Source: Justin Russell

It is no secret that the NFL has a brain injury problem. The issue has been covered by pretty much every major new source, and high profile deaths and suicides linked to repeated brain damage has kept the topic at the forefront of sports and health discussions.

All this time, the finger has been pointed at concussions, or traumatic brain injuries, as the ultimate source of the significant long-term brain damage plaguing football players. It is believed repeated traumatic brain injuries lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes depression, anxiety, and cognitive deficits. Unfortunately for the NFL, it may be the quantity of hits players are enduring, not the isolated cases of concussions.

According to USA Today, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic studied college football players, and found that athletes can experience significant brain damage solely due to continuous head collisions, even when concussion doesn’t occur. The study, published in PLoS ONE, took blood samples and undertook brain scans and cognitive tests with 67 college football players before and after games during the 2011 season.

The results of the blood tests showed that the 40 players who had taken the heaviest hits, according to film reviews and post game interviews, had heightened amounts of an antibody connected to brain damage. The abnormalities were then confirmed via brain scan.

None of the players involved in the study had a documented concussion throughout the study, yet more than half of the participants showed signs of brain damage similar to those found in TBI patients, specifically an auto-immune response and damage to the blood-brain barrier.

This is grim news for football. Concussions are difficult enough to combat. The injuries are practically invisible, egos and career stability often keep players from reporting their own injuries, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy is being found in more and more players. How is the sport supposed to fight hits that are fundamental to the sport?

4 Responses

  1. Kit Raymond says:

    If subconcussive hits are compromising the blood brain barrier
    football as played today is finished. The Cleveland study should be handed
    out to every team in the US. The facts say there is no way to play
    the game without running the risk of brain injury for everyone . Think
    how many thousands of people whose mental capacity has been compromised
    just for playin a “game.” The list goes well beyond football . Bottom
    line, the brain was never designed to absorb head hits no matter who
    Or what produces them . As more athletes are diagnosed with CTE the games
    will either have to drastically change or die because of one fundamental
    question. Would you want your kid’s brain to be damaged
    permanently in the name of sport?

  2. […] clashes that are causing players' mental and physical woes, confirming the quantity of minor "subconcussive" hits as the real factor. The film arrives in theaters on […]

  3. […] “Sub-Concussive Hits Are Causing Serious Brain Damage.” Traumatic Brain Injury. N.p., n.d. Web. (http://www.traumaticbraininjury.net/sub-concussive-hits-are-causing-serious-brain-damage/) […]

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