In late February, I predicted that this year will be a historic year for brain injury research, and so far scientists seem determined to prove that prediction true. The past two weeks have been packed with huge findings about traumatic brain injury, and none of them are good news to Roger Goodell or anyone else working with a dangerous sport.
The Wall Street Journal blogger Daniel Akst collected the recent findings, and he starts off with news that should scare every football player in America. Just one concussion can cause lasting damage to the brain. A recent study compared the brains of TBI patients a year after their injury, and many were found to have regional shrinking in the brain, signifying brain damage.
Even worse, brain damage may be possible even without a concussion. A study of college football players found that the more hits a player takes, the higher concentration of a protein in the bloodstream associated with TBI. Some players studied even showed other autoimmune responses connected with brain injury.
Scientists have also run a new study using mice which has allowed researchers to watch brain injury unfold under a microscope for the first time. The study also supported the hypothesis that even mild brain trauma can kill brain tissue.
To top it all off, the latest findings are also attacking helmets and mouth guards, saying that they don’t actually prevent even mild traumatic brain injury. Helmets do protect against other head and face injuries, but no amount of padding seems to ward off concussions.
Needless to say, this year appears to be momentous for brain injury research, but it may not be good news to those in love with violent sports.