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Brain Changes Seen in Youth Football Players without Concussion

NFL Brain Injury   The Radiological Society of North America reports that a study published in the journal of radiology found measurable changes in the brains of children after one season of participating in youth football without a diagnosis of a concussion. Christopher T. Whitlow, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.A., associate professor and chief of neuroradiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., the lead author of the study stated “We wanted to see if cumulative sub-concussive head impacts have any effects on the developing brain.” 25 male football players between 8 and 13 years old were studied. The Head Impact Telemetry System (HITs) was used to record head impact data. Participants in the study underwent pre- and post-season evaluation with multimodal neuroimaging, including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the brain. DTI is an advanced MRI technique, which identifies microstructural changes in the brain’s white matter. Diffusion tensor imaging measures what is known as fractional anisotropy (FA), of the movement of water molecules in the brain and along axons. Dr. Whitlow stated that the participants in the study “…who experienced more cumulative head impact exposure had more changes in brain white matter, specifically decreased FA, in specific parts of the brain.” He stated further research is needed to determine the significance of these findings. Read the RSNA Press release here.