Thursday, October 22, 2009

the perils of youth...

A number of years ago, I became involved in an ongoing research project with a colleague (pardon the shameless plug) looking at the effects of concussion on youth athletes. We found evidence of long-term effects of concussion on cognitive functioning in small sample, and then validated and extended these effects in a much larger sample. Essentially, we concluded:
seem to be subtle yet significant prolonged neuropsychological effects in youth athletes with a history of two or more previous concussions.

Cut to 2009, and a recent case reported in today's NY Times reveals that the long-term effects of concussions on the brains of professional athletes extends to the brains of high school and college athletes who never played professionally.
“I’ve looked at more than 1,000 brains, and I’ve never seen this in any individual living a normal life — it’s only through head trauma,” said Dr. Ann McKee, an associate professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine and co-director of its Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. “The fact that we are seeing this disease, and it had a devastating effect on their lives, now in a 42-year-old who never played in the N.F.L. indicates that it’s a more pervasive problem than we recognize. What are we doing with our kids? Are we doing enough to protect against their developing this awful condition?”