In recent years many studies have been conducted and reports have emerged about the risks of brain injury caused by playing physical sports and also about their impact on development of the brain in the players. However, most researches are about the changes occurring in the players’ brain as a result of concussions, but few focus specifically on players who have never experienced concussions.
In one such study the research team headed by 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., studied 25 young male football players to assess the brain changes after a season of football. Players who were chosen had no signs or symptoms of concussion. With the help of Head Impact Telemetry System (which is an advancement in MRI), data were recorded and analyzed to determine the risk weighted cumulative exposure associated with head impacts caused in a single season of play.
Using modern techniques, players’ brain images were taken before and after the season and it was revealed that there were changes in the white matter of the brains due to impacts during the games. To simplify, the research showed that the flow of water through the neural networks was not uniform. This is hard to tell if the changes are permanent right now and also what implications these changes may have. The research team suggests that time will answer how the players will have their brains function and age.