In the more than 200 athletes in this long-term study, all of whom had played football before the age of 12, it was found that compared to a normal population the rate of behavioral problems was doubled, and the rate of depression was tripled. Some study participants had stopped playing football by high school and others had gone on to play in college and the NFL.
According to Robert Stern, a lead author of the study, “The brain is going through this incredible time of growth between the years of 10 and 12, and if you subject that developing brain to repetitive head impacts, it may cause problems later in life.”
An earlier study by Stern had shown diminished mental flexibility that among NFL retirees who started playing before they were 12, compared to those who started playing later in life. Last year, results of MRI studies of boys between 8 and 13 who had only played one season of tackle football were published by researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. The study showed diminished function in some areas of these children’s’ brains.
When a child’s head is struck, jostled, or suddenly twisted, the forces on brain tissue cannot be diminished or controlled by headgear. Protection is a myth. Avoidance is the only reasonable path to prevention of brain injury in children when considering participation in contact sports.
Learn more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Sports Injuries