A recent study has concluded that middle-aged sportspeople who experienced a head injury in their teens now have increased difficulty recalling information.
Canadian researchers scanned the brains of healthy former athletes aged from 50 -60 years old who had played recreational sports while at college. Some had experienced concussions while playing sports and some had not.
Findings showed that the cerebral cortex, an area of the brain associated with language, attention and thought was marginally thinner in those who’d had a head injury years ago. Another area of the brain called the hippocampus to do with short-term and long-term memory and spatial awareness had reduced capacity in previously concussed athletes. It also came to light that those without concussion were slightly better at recalling events and names.
Scientists concluded that the sum of the results pointed to signs of ‘abnormal aging’ in that some of the 50-year-olds had the brain structure of a 60-year-old.
Dr. Broglio a respected expert in the field of head injuries and its connection with contact sports activities, says that the concussions are potentially to blame for this premature aging.
He says in a recent journal written in the Exercise and Sports Sciences Review that it’s possible that concussions “may accelerate some of the normal deterioration in cognitive and motor function that we’d expect with aging,”
Adding weight to this research is the lawsuit that was filed by former American football players against the National Football League (the NFL). Although not specifically linked to aging, the 3,000 plaintiffs believe that the league has deliberately covered up information about the effects that football-related head injuries have on long-term brain damage.
Research into the area of sports-related head injuries is a topical and clearly controversial issue and research is being carried out daily from all corners of the globe.
Dr. Brogolio concludes that the effects of head injuries acquired during contact sports all depend on the individual. He recommends that to curtail any premature aging symptoms, athletes and non-sportsmen alike should all exercise their brains on a regular basis. He says that reading and solving puzzles will help towards keeping your brain active and healthy.
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Published 11th February 2015.