By Ken Reed

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, concludes that receiving repeated head impacts in football between the ages of 10 and 12 may increase the risk of cognitive problems later in life.

The study looked at retired NFL players between the ages of 40 and 69 and found that those who began their football careers before age 12 performed significantly worse on three different measures of brain function.

“They were worse on all the tests we looked at,” said Dr. Robert Stern, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery and the study’s lead author. “They had problems learning and remembering lists of words. They had problems with being flexible in their decision-making and problem-solving.”

The ages between 10 and 12 are critical for brain development, including building connectivity networks between different areas of the brain.

The study’s authors cited studies showing that children ages 9 to 12 can incur an average of 240 head impacts (up to 585) per season.

“The logic is you shouldn’t hurt your brain over and over and over again as a child,” said Stern.

The challenge we face as a football-loving society is to allow logic to win the day over our strong emotions.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.