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Repeated head trauma causes changes in the white matter of the brain

Can repeated blows to the head cause brain damage even if no concussion takes place?

A new study reported in the November 14th issue of the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) examines the risk of brain injury as a result of heading the ball in soccer.

Soccer is the only sport in which the unprotected head is a primary point of contact with a ball.  The study sort to examine the effect of repeated sub concussive blows to the head using a form of MRI known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)

The study found differences in white matter integrity in the sample of soccer players tested that were consisted with abnormal findings found in patients who suffered from mild traumatic brain injury.

The changes were in regions of the brain that are responsible for memory and attention according to one of the study authors who was quoted in news articles.

Results of the study are published as a research letter in the Nov. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, “White Matter Integrity in the Brains of Professional Soccer Players Without a Symptomatic Concussion”, JAMA, Vol. 308, No. 18 at pages 1859-1861.

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