Football and the Brain

Interesting? Useful? Share it!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

A recent study supported by the National Football League indicates that Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) or related conditions involving memory deficits appear to occur more frequently in the league’s former players significantly more than the general population. Indeed, the study indicates former players suffer dementia 19 times more often than the normal rate for men ages 30-49.

The study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research is consistent with previous studies pertaining to NFL players and the effects of head injury. The study found that 6.1% of players age 50 and above reported that they had received a dementia-related diagnosis or 5x higher than the cited national average which is 1.2 %. Players ages 30 through 49 evinced a rate of 1.9% or 19 times that of the national average which is documented to be .01%.

Critics of the study question its methodology that reportedly used telephone surveys. However, research beyond the NFL consistently lists head injury as a risk factor for AD even though the exact mechanism for this relationship is not yet known.

Perhaps a more significant issue that the NFL/Dementia study underscores is the cumulative effect of head injury which likely begins with the sport of football well before any single player enters the NFL. Fortunately there are now sophisticated assessment protocols that provide each player in high school the opportunity to have his or her cognitive skills measured, thereby providing a baseline of their cognitive status. In the event a concussion occurs the player can obtain another assessment to measure the impact of the head injury that helps to keep the player off the field until his or her cognitive status returns to baseline.

It is most likely not a good idea to engage in any activity that has persistent striking of the head to any degree. Head injuries occur in football, hockey, and perhaps even soccer. The fact that the latter sport does not permit use of head bands or some type of head gear is amazing! The current study should alert the nation to re-consider youth sports as the cumulative effect of striking the head across the lifespan most likely contributes to the results reported. Equally significant is the idea that any child would be exposed to a potential head injury when his or her brain is undergoing critical development.


Interesting? Useful? Share it!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

4 thoughts on “Football and the Brain

  1. Erin

    This is not surprising. I would expect that all the physical contact would have some detrimental effects. But these players aren’t doomed. There are studies out that doing brain fitness exercises helps to reduce or slow down memory loss.

  2. Judy

    YES…Check out the video I down loaded on my blog. This video was taken during this years play offs. The two players hit head on like two rams. They get taken off the field but no word or follow up about their condition after that hit. I think they played in the next weeks game.

  3. Pingback: 43 Mind hacks That Will Make You Healthier « 3Goals Promotion

What are your thoughts?