Subconcussive Impacts – Frequency and Magnitude Matter

Adding to this site’s archives of safety studies in combat sports, a recent article was published in the Journal of Neurology and Neurorehabilitation Research further noting the connection between neurological system impairment and the frequency and severity of subconcussive head impacts.

In the article, titled “PROTECT THE PLAYER, PROTECT THE GAME: SUBCONCUSSION AND CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY”  the authors note the following findings consistent with other research indicating that mileage matters when it comes to sports related brain trauma:

Our recent clinical studies suggest that some of neurological system may be impaired and reflective of frequency and magnitude of subconcussive head impact sustained. For example, 10 bouts of soccer headers with an average magnitude of 14.5 g led to a transient dysfunction in vestibular processing, causing significantly larger postural sway while static and walking (Hwang, 2016). Similarly, soccer headings acutely blunted the ocular-motor system, particularly near point of convergence, and the impairment persisted even after 24 hours of resting (Kawata, 2016), pointing to the possibility that vulnerability and slow recovery nature of the ocularmotor system. A follow-up prospective longitudinal study in collegiate football players confirmed our finding that the degree of impairment in the ocular-motor function was dependent on the frequency and magnitude of subconcussive head impact sustained (Kawata, 2016). Taken together, although a direct causality between subconcussive head impact exposure and development of CTE remains elusive, it is imperative to employ prospective cohort approaches, rather than case-reports, as to delineate chronic effects of head impact and different factors (e.g. age, gender, genetics) contributing to the disease.

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