At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Christopher C. Whitlow, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.A., an associate professor of radiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and radiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center presented the findings from his research that some high school football players exhibit measurable brain changes after a single season of play, even in the absence of concussion

Dr. Whitlow and his fellow researchers studied twenty-four high school football players between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, none of whom had a history of having sustained a concussion.  During all games and practices, the twenty-four players were monitored with Head Impact Telemetry System (HITs) helmet-mounted accelerometers.

Utilizing this data, the players were divided into two groups “heavy hitters” and “light hitter.”  All twenty-four players underwent pre- and post- season evaluation with Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).  Although none of the players suffered a concussion during the season “the results showed that both groups demonstrated global increases of FA over time, likely reflecting effects of brain development. However, the heavy-hitter group showed statistically significant areas of decreased FA post-season in specific areas of the brain, including the splenium of the corpus callosum and deep white matter tracts.”

“’Our study found that players experiencing greater levels of head impacts have more FA loss compared to players with lower impact exposure,” Dr. Whitlow said. ‘Similar brain MRI changes have been previously associated with mild traumatic brain injury. However, it is unclear whether or not these effects will be associated with any negative long-term consequences.’

Dr. Whitlow cautions that these findings are preliminary, and more study needs to be done.” If you or a loved one has been affected by a brain injury, contact Stark & Stark today.

Click here for the link to the RSNA press release.