About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Playing Youth Football Can Affect Brain Development: Here’s How

by Adeline Dorcas on November 26, 2018 at 4:14 PM
Font : A-A+

Playing Youth Football Can Affect Brain Development: Here’s How

Playing football can significantly affect youngster's brain development in just one season, finds a new study.

Young football players may experience a disruption in brain development after a single season of the sport, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Advertisement


"This research demonstrates that playing a season of contact sports may affect normal gray matter pruning in high school and youth football players," said Gowtham Krishnan Murugesan, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

The brain is highly complex with an abundance of neural connections. New connections are formed, and unused connections fall away in a process called pruning. Much like cutting back dead or unnecessary branches keeps a tree healthy and helps it grow, brain pruning is necessary to healthy brain development.
Advertisement

"Pruning is an essential part of brain development," Murugesan said. "By getting rid of the synapses that are no longer used, the brain becomes more efficient with aging."

The researchers set out to determine whether exposure to repetitive head impacts affects normal pruning of the brain in young football players.

For the study, 60 youth and high school football players without a history of developmental, neurological or psychiatric abnormalities and no history of a concussion prior to or during the season were outfitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS). HITS helmets are lined with accelerometers or sensors that measure the magnitude, location and direction of impacts to the head. Impact data from the helmets were used to calculate a risk of concussion exposure for each player.

Players were then split into two groups: high-impact players (24) and low-impact players (36), based on each player's risk of cumulative head impact exposure as determined by HITS.

Pre- and post-season resting state functional (fMRI) scans were performed on all players, and changes in power within five components the default mode network (DMN) were analyzed.

The DMN is a network of regions deep in the gray matter areas of the brain. It includes structures that activate when a person is awake and engaging in introspection or processing emotions, which are activities that are important for brain health.

The post-season results showed significant increases in power and gray matter volume in the frontal DMN in the high-impact group.

"Disruption in normal pruning has been shown to be related to weaker connections between different parts of the brain," Murugesan said. "Our study has found a significant decrease in gray matter pruning in the frontal default mode network, which is involved in higher cognitive functions, such as the planning and controlling of social behaviors."

Studies of biomechanical data from this same group of participants were conducted at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Their findings showed that most head impacts occurred during practice.

"By replacing high-impact practice drills with low- or no-impact drills, the overall head-impact exposure for players can be reduced," Murugesan said.

The researchers also suggested that minor modifications to the game could also be implemented to reduce full-speed contact.

"The new National Football League kickoff rule eliminating the running start is an example," Murugesan said.

The researchers hope to conduct further study to fully understand the long-term changes in resting state brain networks and their association with neuropsychological task performance.

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Insulin Resistance Doubles the Risk of Major Depressive Disorder
Emotional Healing
Psychosis Risk Related to Cat Parasite
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Brain Brain Facts Ataxia World Cup 2014 Football Injuries Language Areas in The Brain Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) 

Recommended Reading
Playing Tackle Football in Childhood Linked to Early Onset of Cognitive Impairment
Early onset of cognitive impairment in athletes diagnosed with neurodegenerative conditions may be ....
Football Players Who Head the Ball can Have Balance Issues Later On
Soccer players who hit the ball with their head tend to have more balance problems while walking, .....
Minute Brain Changes Tend to Occur in Teens Who Play High School Football
High school football: Getting hit repeatedly in the head can cause minute changes in the brains of ....
Football Concussions: How Many Hits to the Head is Too Much?
Soccer heading may increase concussion risk in most football players. Repetitive head impact ......
Ataxia
Ataxia affects coordination. Gait becomes unstable and the patient loses balance. The cerebellum or ...
Language Areas in The Brain
The mechanism of how human brain processes the language to express and comprehend the verbal, writte...
Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by progressive dopamine brain cells loss. ...
Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a psychological measure of human intelligence. Regular physical and me...
World Cup 2014 Football Injuries
World Cup Football 2014 has seen its share of injuries that are part and parcel of any sport, more s...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use