The dangers of repetitive brain trauma
Among the risks that young athletes face when they experience traumatic brain injuries are:
- Mild traumatic brain injury may cause long-term neurological damage and cognitive impairment, especially if an athlete has more than one. “What we call microtrauma or repetitive injury to the head may not produce concussive symptoms, but may also lead to long-term effects,” says Dr. Wellington Hsu, professor of orthopedic and neurological surgery at Northwestern University in Illinois.
- Various degrees of traumatic brain injury have been linked to increased odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Repeated brain injuries might cause dementia to develop at a younger age.
- Football players with at least three concussions have reported more memory problems than players who had no such injuries. “We don’t know what happens if you get 10 over a season or five in one game,” says James Hicks, director of the University of California, Irvine’s Center for Exercise Medicine and Sports Sciences. “You may not have headaches afterward, but repetitive brain injury does something.”
Read the main story: High schools crackdown on concussions