For decades, the safety of football has been a hot topic concerning parents of student players and avid NFL fans alike.
And unfortunately, a new study conducted by the University of Rochester has underscored just how detrimental traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be for adolescent brain development.
According to the CDC, children between the ages of six and fourteen who participated in tackle football sustained fifteen times more head impacts than flag football players during a game or practice.
Moreover, the tackle football players “sustained twenty-three times more high-magnitude head impact (hard head impact).”
Even with a helmet on, these head blows can be damning. In fact, if a child ends up sustaining a TBI, even a more mild one, the researchers found they will undergo more behavioral and emotional problems than their peers.
The team came to this conclusion by drawing on the MRI scans and behavioral data of thousands of children who participated in a study known as Adolescence Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD).
The study was launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has been contributed to by over twenty research sites.
And to date, the ten-year research effort has followed nearly twelve thousand children into early adulthood to specifically analyze how experiences, behaviors, and biological development have impacted brain maturation and other life factors– such as social development, academic achievement, and more.
In terms of TBIs, though, the researchers sadly uncovered that children who experienced even a mild TBI were at a fifteen percent higher risk of experiencing a behavioral or emotional problem. This risk was highest in children at the age of ten.