Study: Football Hits Cause Brain Changes, Even Without Concussion | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Study: Football Hits Cause Brain Changes, Even Without Concussion

March 8, 2013

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

A new study by the Cleveland Clinic found that blows to the head can lead to measurable and lasting changes in the brain—even when those hits do not cause concussions.

Researchers set out to examine the consequences of “sub-concussive events,” or the type of head hits football players experience hundreds of times per season during normal play. They monitored 67 collegiate football players in Ohio and New York, taking blood samples before and after games and at the beginning and end of the season. They also analyzed game film and administered questionnaires after games to see which players experienced the hardest hits.

The result? Players who took hits to the head below the threshold of a concussion had elevated levels of S100B in their bloodstreams. S100B is a protein considered an indicator of damage to the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s protective lining. Players who took the most hits had the highest levels of S100B in their bloodstreams.

The body responds to significantly elevated levels of S100B by releasing antibodies to attack it, misidentifying the protein as an invader, Researchers believe those auto-antibodies can harm the brain if they get through its protective barrier, which is possible after a blow to the head has damaged it. They also tracked the presence of those auto-antibodies and found a correlation between elevated auto-antibody levels and problems with impulse control.

Researchers also observed that brain changes caused by head hits lasted as long as six months.

"This is a very strong study to suggest that you don't have to have any recognized concussions to have brain dysfunction," Boston University neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Cantu told Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer. Cantu is a leading researcher of brain injuries. He was not involved with the Clinic study, but he did review it.

"The big message is that those [football players] who are taking 1,000, 1,500 hits over the course of a season, a significant number of them may be taking some brain abnormalities as a result of it," Cantu said. "This is giving parents food for thought about the concept that no trauma is good for the brain."

Cantu and others spoke with Plain Dealer reporter John Mangels in his report on the new study, which you can read here.

[Plain Dealer]

Topics: CONCUSSION
Brian Sabin
- Executive Editor Brian Sabin is a Webby Award-winning writer, editor and producer covering all things health, fitness and sports. He previously worked as a Senior...
Brian Sabin
- Executive Editor Brian Sabin is a Webby Award-winning writer, editor and producer covering all things health, fitness and sports. He previously worked as a Senior...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 3,056,420
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,916,698
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,216

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 135,407
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 14,586
Elite Performance With Mike Boyle: Train the Core While Standing Views: 311,611
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,221,618
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,105
How Greg Nixon Gets More 'Twerk' on the Track
Views: 950,576
Corey White's Off-Season Guide to Making Plays
Views: 1,396,869
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,814,024

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Every athlete wants to avoid injury . Prevention can be difficult when there is no crystal ball to tell us when, where, how and why the injury will...

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

How to Train With Running Blisters

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries