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Several studies have shown that the impacts received by American football players can affect their brain and a recent investigation found that the former professional football players who declared having suffered symptoms of shockedno brain have lower cognitive performance.
A study led by researchers at Mass General Brigham, McLean Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network found that former NFL players who reported having suffered symptoms of concussion during their career as footballers they obtained poorer performance on a battery of cognitive tests than non-players.
Of the more than 350 former NFL players who were studied an average of 29 years after the end of their playing career, those who reported having suffered concussion symptoms during their career got worse scores on tests of episodic memory, sustained attention, processing speed, and vocabulary.
The investigation did a follow-up analysis that compared former players to more than 5,000 male volunteers from the general population who did not play professional soccer, and found that cognitive performance was generally worse in former players than in non-players. While younger former players outperformed non-gamers on some tests, older retired players were more likely to perform worse than controls on cognitive tasks.
The researchers who led the study said their results underscore The Importance of Tracking Concussion Symptomsl as opposed to research-diagnosed concussions. This work also adds evidence to the impact that a professional football career can have on accelerating cognitive ageing.
“These new findings from the largest study of its kind show that professional soccer players may continue to experience cognitive difficulties associated with head injuries decades after retiring of sport,” said study lead author Laura Germine, PhD, director of the Brain and Cognitive Health Technology Laboratory at McLean Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Concussions could accelerate cognitive declines
These comparative data suggest that soccer exposure could accelerate cognitive declines related to age and lead to greater handicaps at later ages, according to the researchers, who added that more studies are needed to track the cognitive performance of former players as they age.
Another possibility is that improved awareness and management of traumatic brain injury has Younger retired players saved more than older ones. The researchers also noted that this comparative finding is limited by a lack of data on cognition before TBI, and that more research is needed that closely compares former players and non-players and measures their cognitive performances throughout their lives. .
“Both for former players and for researchers, we can draw some important conclusions of this study,” said Football Players’ Health Study principal investigator Ross Zafonte, DO. “I knowxgamers can support their cognitive health as they age taking proactive steps, and continue to consult with your providers and educate yourself on head injury symptoms. For researchers and providers, these findings support efforts to develop ways to improve diagnosis and define the long-term sequelae of concussion,” he added.
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