Sports Related Brain Injuries

There are many positive benefits to participating in sports, which is why so many parents are anxious for their children to play one sport or another. While there are plenty of safety measures in place for most major sports, enough isn’t usually done to sufficiently guard against brain injuries. When most of us think of sports-related brain injuries, we think of the freak accidents that occur once in a blue moon, incapacitating players and leaving them in vegetative states. The truth is, though, that more than 300,000 traumatic brain injuries are caused by sports and recreation activities each year – and they’re not always readily apparent.

An Increased Risk of Degenerative Brain Disease

Studies are increasingly showing that small, repetitive brain injuries can cause major problems later on down the line. Approximately 20% of people who experience repeated trauma to their brains will end up developing degenerative brain disease and other related disorders. Although the research into this phenomenon is far from complete, studies suggest that repeated head trauma can cause brain cells to shrivel; damage might not become obvious for years. Once it’s in motion, though, that damage becomes progressively worse.

Risk Factors for Sports-Related Brain Injuries

The sport that is probably best known for causing brain injuries has to be football. The rough nature of the game often causes concussions and other forms of trauma. Studies have shown that once a concussion occurs, it’s much easier to experience another one. In other words, players become more susceptible to brain trauma the more often it occurs.

Football isn’t the only sport that can cause brain injuries and trauma, though. Among young kids, soccer is one of the most worrisome activities; this is largely due to the practice of “heading” soccer balls, or punting them with one’s head. Due to the repetitive nature of this activity, the same issues that often plague football players can plague soccer players. In both cases, learning and memory problems can develop over time. Any sort of trauma to the head has to be taken seriously, then, and measures should be made to avoid such trauma at all costs.

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