The deterioration of cognitive functions in football players is mainly due to frequent ball movements and not to accidental collisions as a result of collisions, researchers warned
The results suggest that efforts to reduce long-term brain injuries are too focused on prevention of random head collisions.
"Accidental head injuries are generally considered to be the leading cause of concussion in football, so it is understandable that current prevention measures aim to minimize these collisions," said lead author Michael Lipton, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York York, US.
"But intentional bumps ̵
Researchers recruited 380 amateur footballers in New York City for the study published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. They completed questionnaires in which they presented their last (two weeks ago) on-site activities, including head-butts and unintentional collisions.
The participants also conducted neuropsychological tests of verbal learning, verbal memory, psychomotor speed, attention, and working memory. The players were between 18 and 55 years old, and 78 percent were male
The players beheaded an average of 45 balls in the two weeks that covered the questionnaire. During this time, about one-third of the players suffered at least one unintentional head impact – occurred head-on or head-to-head, head-floor or head-to-goal collisions.
Players who reported the most headlines had the worst performance in psychomotor speed and attention tasks, which are functional areas that are known to be affected by brain injury.
The head frequency also correlated with poorer performance in the work memory task. In contrast, inadvertent head bumps were not associated with any aspect of cognitive performance.
"Headaches are a potential cause of brain injury, and because they are under the player's control, its consequences can be prevented," says Lipton.
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