Reports indicate that some 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur annually in the United States. Athletes involved in sports such as football, hockey and boxing are at significant risk of TBI due to the high level of contact inherent in these sports. Head injuries are also extremely common in sports such as cycling, baseball, basketball, and skateboarding. Unfortunately, many sports head injuries lead to permanent brain damage or worse. TBI, is the leading cause of death in sports-related accidents. Any failure to identify and treat TBIs is especially harmful to younger individuals, as brain tissue is not fully developed in the brains of adolescents. Head injuries sustained among high school athletes often lead to detrimental damage. Injuries experienced at this stage of development can cause longer-lived symptoms and create vulnerability to further damage if another injury occurs. Other symptoms can include significant decline in school performance, worsening of ADHD symptoms, mood disorders, and impulsive and violent behaviors. (Source)

Using a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College found significant differences in brain white matter of varsity football and hockey players compared with a group of noncontact-sport athletes following one season of competition. White matter is composed primarily of axons, the long fibers that transmit signals between neurons. According to Thomas W. McAllister MD, chair of the IU Department of Psychiatry: This study raises the question of whether we should look not only at concussions but also the number of times athletes receive blows to the head and the magnitude of those blows, whether or not they are diagnosed with a concussion.” Some athletes may be more susceptible to repeated head impacts that do not involve concussions, although much more research would be necessary to determine how to identify those athletes. It is as yet unclear whether the effects of nonconcussion head impacts are long-lasting or permanent, and whether they are cumulative. (Source)

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