Researchers recently published their findings of a study with elite rugby union players that closely examined the impact of concussions on the brain as people age. The study shows that the brain function in young rugby players who have a history of concussions is on a par with people in their 60s. The results suggest that concussions accelerate biological brain aging by as much as three decades.
Researchers discovered that concussed rugby union players have more “free radicals”, which are unstable, cell-damaging molecules, in their blood. Researchers also noted that the rugby players they observed had less nitric oxide, which helps oxygen and glucose get to the brain. Due to the lack of nitric oxide, blood vessels in the concussed brain react slowly to changes in blood flow. This condition is called “cerebrovascular impairment.”
Studies have linked cerebrovascular impairment to cognitive dysfunction, and can have a negative effect on a person’s ability to think, concentrate, generate ideas, and remember. Cerebrovascular impairment can also make people more vulnerable to dementia in their senior years. According to the study, these types of impairments were mostly seen in the regions of the brain where head contact is most frequently made during competitive play.
In both active and retired elite rugby union players, researchers found their brains cognitively impaired compared to people of a similar age and fitness who had not been concussed or participated in contact sports. The effects also seemed to be influenced by which position the athlete played on the rugby team. Cognitive impairment was particularly prevalent among those who played forward positions, a spot that usually experiences more tackles and collisions in a rugby game compared to the backs.
Speak to a Sports Concussion Lawyer Today
At Scarlett Law Group, we proudly represent athletes who competed in a wide range of sports and suffered serious concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. Who know that concussions can result in devastating brain damage like chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), which is why we are committed to helping our clients recover the maximum amount of compensation they are entitled to for their damages.