Repeated Hits More Important than Concussions for Tracking Head Trauma
New Study Considers Cumulative Head Trauma Over Concussions
According to a study published in Thursday’s Journal of Neurotrauma, there appears to be a correlation between the total number of hits experienced by young athletes and the clinical outcomes they develop later in life.
For the study, previous accelerometer data was used to determine the number of hits athletes experienced in a season. The researchers then used that data to get an estimate the repetitive exposures to head impact of their sample population was subject to, adjusting results for number of seasons played and for the position and level of the player.
They labeled this final calculation the Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Index (CHII).
The study’s co-author, Boston University professor of neurology Robert Stern, believes this new metric could be a better predictor of an athlete’s risk of developing long-term outcomes than current metrics which focus primarily on concussive injuries and neglect more common subconcussive trauma.
However, the study’s research team was quick to point out that the new study had a very limited sample of 93 men and that more research would be needed to confirm the findings.
Risks of Repeated Head Trauma
Researchers have long warned of a connection between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“We need to take very seriously the notion that hitting your head over and over again may have long-term consequences,” suggests Stern.
Long-term outcomes of repeated head trauma and CTE can include depression, cognitive changes, loss of memory, behavioral changes, and suicide.
A recent study by the Mayo clinic suggests kids, teenagers,and young adults who are very active in sports develop an increased risk of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
More than 1,700 cases were examined in the Mayo Clinic Bank, and 1 in 3 of the 66 males that have played a contact sport when they were young tested to have damaged brain tissue consistent with CTE.