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It only takes 1 football season to damage the brain

There has been a lot of information in the news recently about brain injuries. One of the topics that seems to come up a lot is the tie between contact sports and these devastating injuries. A new study that was conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center might have some parents rethinking signing that permission slip for kids to play football.

The study looked at 300 teenage football players from North Carolina. The data that the team reviewed showed that teens can suffer from long-term impacts on the brain after only one season on the field.

The average age of players that were studied was only 16 years old. Researchers found that the functional connectivity, or the ability of the brain to relay messages from one part of the body to another, suffered a negative impact after a single season.

The study's authors noted that the findings don't mean that children shouldn't play football. Instead, they used the research to remind everyone who has a part in youth football, even through the high school years, that keeping an eye on the players is crucial. Players who have any signs of concussions should receive a medical evaluation and appropriate treatment before they are allowed to return to the gridiron again.

The study is still in the early phase. The researchers note that they will continue to follow players to determine how the hits they took on the field might impact them in the next several years. This might provide an interesting look into how one of the favorite high school sports can protect these enthusiastic players.

Source: CBS Chicago, "One Football Season Increases Risk Of Brain Injury," Nov. 27, 2017

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