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Repeated heading of a soccer ball can cause brain damage

Using diffusion tensor imaging equipment (dti) which measures brain function combined with the results of neuropsychological testing, researchers at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, have concluded that heading the ball in soccer can cause brain damage.

Frequent heading of the ball resulted in brain injuries similar to the damage found in other forms of concussions.

Lead author Michael Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of Einstein's Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center and medical director of MRI services at Montefiore said :

"Our goal was to determine if there is a threshold level for heading frequency that, when surpassed, resulted in detectable brain injury ... While heading a ball 1,000 or 1,500 times a year may seem high to those who don't participate in the sport, it only amounts to a few times a day for a regular player ...

Heading a soccer ball is not an impact of a magnitude that will lacerate nerve fibers in the brain ... But repetitive heading may set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells."

In all, five different areas of the brain were seen to be affected - they were clustered in the frontal lobe (behind the forehead) and in the temporal-occipital region (the bottom-rear areas) of the areas that are responsible for attention, memory, executive functioning and higher-order visual functions.

Players were also tested to assess their neuropsychological function. Players with the highest annual heading frequency performed worse on tests of verbal memory and psychomotor speed (activities that require mind-body coordination, like throwing a ball) relative to players with fewer number of headers.

The study was presented earlier this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.

The brain injury attorneys at the New York brain injury law firm of De Caro & Kaplen, frequently use dti testing to prove that their clients have sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident.  If you need legal assistance for your brain injury case, contact the brain injury law firm today.




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