Description: There are concussions in hockey and football. The data on this is getting clearer and clearer. But the question of what this means for those games remains unclear. Can better helmets be made? Can rules against headshots (consistently enforced) reduce the rate and severity of concussion and related head injuries? Research is ongoing. Here is another question you may have heard tossed about. Should teenagers be playing these sports at all? Would shifting to non-contact versions of those sports up to higher ages than is currently the case be considered? These are more developmental questions and they need to be addressed with developmental research … research with teenage players of hockey and football. What would those sorts of studies need to look at and how would they need to be designed in order to provide useful data to address those questions? Think about that and then have a look at the article linked below that summarized a study looking directly at of those questions…. What happens to the brains of teenagers over a single year of football even if they do not sustain a concussion?
Source: Playing high school football changes the teenage brain, Science News, ScienceDaily.
Date: November 16, 2018
Image Credit: Nan-Jie Gong and Chunlei Liu, UC Berkley
Ok now…. What questions would you like to see addressed either by the researchers who conducted the study described in the link above and what research questions remain to be asked after the study was completed? Certainly one question is: what is diffusion kurtosis and does it provide the sort of data the researchers say it provides? Another question might be, what do we know from other studies about the impact of white and grey matter damage to the brain in general AND over time with development from the teenage years onward? Also, how much detail could helmet placed accelerometers they employed in the study provide about the nature and severity of the head insults received by the teenage players studied? Finally, and this is not really a direct research question but, when (after how much of what kind(s)of research will we be in a position to make health, developmental, and/or ethical policy recommendations about hockey and football played by teenagers (and would making such statements make a difference)?
Questions for Discussion:
- What does playing a single season of football as a teenager do to a teenaged brain?
- What issue are there with the generalizability of the results of this study and what do those issues suggest about possible policy statements arising from this study?
- From a research and policy perspective in relation to teenage brain health and development what does research and do research hers need to do next?
References (Read Further):
Nan-Jie Gong, Samuel Kuzminski, Michael Clark, Melissa Fraser, Mark Sundman, Kevin Guskiewicz, Jeffrey R. Petrella, Chunlei Liu. Microstructural alterations of cortical and deep gray matter over a season of high school football revealed by diffusion kurtosis imaging. Neurobiology of Disease, 2018; 119: 79 DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2018.07.020
Guskiewicz, K. M., Weaver, N. L., Padua, D. A., & Garrett, W. E. (2000). Epidemiology of concussion in collegiate and high school football players. The American journal of sports medicine, 28(5), 643-650. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nancy_Weaver/publication/12292601_Epidemiology_of_Concussion_in_Collegiate_and_High_School_Football_Players/links/0046351a4a1f5e73e6000000.pdf
Monson, P. (2018). Case Report: A Novel Ocular Screening Aid for Detection of Sport-related Concussion in High School Athletes. https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3456&context=etd
Montenigro, P. H., Alosco, M. L., Martin, B. M., Daneshvar, D. H., Mez, J., Chaisson, C. E., … & McClean, M. D. (2017). Cumulative head impact exposure predicts later-life depression, apathy, executive dysfunction, and cognitive impairment in former high school and college football players. Journal of neurotrauma, 34(2), 328-340. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5220530/
Deshpande, S. K., Hasegawa, R. B., Rabinowitz, A. R., Whyte, J., Roan, C. L., Tabatabaei, A., … & Small, D. S. (2017). Association of playing high school football with cognition and mental health later in life. JAMA neurology, 74(8), 909-918. http://www.natajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.4085/1062-6050-326-16