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Sub-Concussive Hits May Not Be Tied to Neurocognitive Changes

Findings based on a small study of youth football players over the course of one football season

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Sub-concussive head impacts suffered over the course of a single season of youth tackle football may not be associated with neurocognitive functional outcomes, according to a study published Oct. 12 in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

Sean C. Rose, M.D., from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues assessed the association of repetitive sub-concussive head impacts with functional outcomes among 55 primary school football players aged 9 to 12 years and 57 high school football players aged 15 to 18 years. During the 2016 football season, helmet-based sensors were used to record head impacts during practices and games. Players completed assessments of a variety of neurocognitive outcomes pre- and post-season.

The researchers found that the average cumulative impact was 3,700 g-forces for the season and did not differ between age groups. Cumulative impact was not predictive of pre- to post-season change scores for any outcome measures. Younger age group and reported history of premorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) predicted change scores on several cognitive testing measures and parent-reported ADHD symptoms. Reported history of premorbid anxiety and depression predicted change scores on symptom reporting.

"The absence of a significant association may reflect the relatively short follow-up interval and signals the need for studies across multiple seasons," write the authors.

ElMindA and Riddell, a manufacturer of football equipment, provided funding and equipment for the study.

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