Youth players' brains show damage after only one football season

Youth football players’ brains undergo measurable changes after only one season, even a concussion-free season, a new study published in the journal Radiology has found.


Researchers evaluated 25 boys, ages 8 to 13, both before and after a football season using neuroimaging techniques, and they recorded head impacts during the season with the Head Impact Telemetry System and video cameras.


They players’ head showed healthy function in the white matter of the brain before the season, but, despite not a single concussion symptom being experienced among the group, at the end of the season there were abnormalities in their brains. The severity of the problems was proportionate to the number of sub-concussive hits a player sustained during the season.


Further study would be required to discover how long these changes in the brain will last, how they will affect the players, and whether the effects intensify over years of football. But if a few concussion-free months are enough to harm a player’s brain, coaches and medical personnel should be that much more cautious with young players’ heads going forward.

*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.