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AANS: Subclinical Head Impact Still Impacts Brain

Single season of concussion-free football still leads to brain changes witnessed on MRI

AANS: Subclinical Head Impact Still Impacts Brain

THURSDAY, April 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A single season of football can lead to measurable brain changes even with subclinical contact, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, held from April 5 to 9 in San Francisco.

Alexander K. Powers, M.D., of the Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues enrolled 45 high school football players and instrumented them with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITs). Pre- and post-season magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were performed. Helmet sensor data were used to compute total impacts and risk weighted cumulative exposure (RWE). Two standard deviations above or below the mean with a minimum cluster threshold of 1 ml was used to define abnormal voxels.

The researchers found that in players with no clinical concussion there was a statistically significant linear association between RWECombined Probability and all diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures. There was also a significant association between RWELinear and DTI measures. DTI scalars were not associated with RWERotational or the total number of head impacts.

"We demonstrate that a single season of football play can produce MRI measurable brain changes that have been previously associated with mild traumatic brain injury," the authors write.

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