Head Trauma and Learning
November 23, 2012
Researchers at my alma mater have joined their voices to the growing chorus of concerns about the effects of repeated blows to the head.
A study of the cognitive effects of head impacts on members of Dartmouth College football, hockey, track, crew and Nordic ski teams compared before and after season results on learning and memory skills. Participating athletes also came from Brown and Virginia Tech.
22 percent of athletes in contact sports had lower results on learning and memory skills tests after their season.
Only 4 percent of athletes in non-contact sports posted lower test results.
The researchers caution that it is unknown at this point how long these negative effects may last, but they also note there is some correlation between test results and how hard the athletes were hitting heads.
This adds to the mounting evidence that rules writers, program sponsors, coaches and officials must look for and implement a variety of measures to reduce the frequency and severity of head impacts in both practice and competition in all sports.