More Girls Are Playing Football. Is that progress?


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" Team sports like football provide well established social, physical and psychological benefits. But a Boston University study released last year found that kids who played tackle football before age 12 may be at higher risk for emotional and behavioral problems later in life. Another study took MRIs of the brains of kids before and after a single season of tackle football, removing from the study anyone who had a diagnosable concussion. Those researchers found that there was a change in the brain’s white matter after just one season of play. And a study published in January in the journal Brain found the kind of changes typical of C.T.E. in the brains of four teenage athletes who had died after impact injuries."

Football will keep killing players until we change the way its played


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"Perhaps the bigger issue is that even if football eliminated concussions from the game, CTE would still be a risk for football players just by the nature of getting hit. As research on traumatic brain injury has progressed, it’s starting to look like CTE is actually caused by multiple blows to the head, regardless of whether they were hard enough to cause a full-blown concussion. A helmet—or neck brace—by its very existence is an admission that players are still taking potentially dangerous hits to the head.

“The more the focus is on concussion, the less likely there will be any meaningful change to the research or the safety of the sport,” says Robert Stern, a neurologist at Boston University."

BBC World Service: The End Zone

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Click HERE for the full interview by Bill Littlefield with Dr. Stern.

"Casey Cochran knew that the next brain rattling hit to his head would be his last. Within a couple of days, he announced to a shocked media, that his star college Football career was over. In the couple of years since, Casey has dealt with depression, suicidal thoughts and the knowledge that he almost certainly has long term brain damage.

Concussion is taking much of the sheen off America’s behemoth national sport and leading to many parents forbidding their children from taking it up.

Bill Littlefield asks whether this multi-billion dollar business can survive if so many players turn their backs on the sport. Where will the next generation of players needed come from?

Bill attends practice for the Millis Mohawks High School in Massachusetts. They are down to their bare bones of players and concede that they will be forced to join with neighboring schools to get a football team together.

The Mohawks won the Massachusetts state title this season, but the state has seen a 10% drop off of players, not an uncommon figure, and it’s this trend which has led many people to question the long term future of the game.

The NFL is bullish about the games health, but it’s the health of many of its former players which is the concern, as well as the health of young players who every week put on their helmets on school playing fields to play a sport which experts say is just too dangerous for them."

Just One! A Hope for the Future

Recently featured in Seniors BlueBook for the Boston Metro West and Surrounding Area:

"Participation in research is not merely a means of moving science forward; it can also provide important positive benefits to the participant, including a decreased sense of solitude by interacting with a research team who truly understands the disease and its toll on the patient, the caregiver, and family members."

Click HERE for the full article.

I Played Youth Football For Years, What Will They Find in My Brain?

“Parents have a really hard decision to make, and they can’t say the science is there yet to make an easy decision based on just one study,” Robert Stern, a senior author on the study, told the Boston Globe. “At the same time, there is growing research on the effect of football on the brain, and we can’t ignore it. I’m at a point where I feel comfortable saying that, based on logic and common sense and the growing totality of the research, I don’t think kids should be playing tackle football.” Click Here for the full article on Esquire.

New York Times: Playing Tackle Football Before 12 is Tied to Brain Problems Later

Highlight: Still, the findings are yet more evidence that have contributed to an existential crisis for the game, from youth leagues to the N.F.L. Pop Warner, the most established youth football organization in the country, has reduced the amount of contact in practice – where the majority of head hits occur – and changed game rules, including banning kickoffs, one of the most dangerous plays in the game.

Click Here to read the full New York Times story.

Here & Now: Football Can Damage Kids' Brains- Even If They Don't Get Concussions

Highlight: "In this case, they had a range of mood and behavior problems, and what we call executive dysfunction, or problems with initiating and planning, organization. So we weren't looking at the brain, per se, in this study. We've done that in the past with another study looking at this age of starting to play where we actually had brain scans. But in this case it was just how are they functioning, what are their symptoms like as adults?

"And the answer is that these folks who started to play tackle football before age 12 had a threefold increased odds of having clinically meaningful depression symptoms and twofold clinically meaningful apathy and behavioral dysregulation, meaning not being able to control their behaviors and their impulses, as well as self-reported difficulties with this executive functioning."

Listen to the full interview Here.

CTE Investigators Launch $16 Million Study


Last Wednesday and Thursday Boston University School of Medicine hosted the first Annual Investigator Meeting for the DIAGNOSE CTE Research Project. We welcomed nearly 50 investigators from around the country for two days of discussion and collaboration. BU Today summarizes the event in a recent piece.

Read the full article HERE

Second Annual Carlos Kase Research Symposium

“Drs. McKee and Stern have steadily contributed to the department’s research enterprise over the years, through their work in the NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Center, where they have both played an essential role in generating a number of clinical and pathology studies, in training and mentoring young scientists, and in contributing to the education of medical students, residents, and fellows.”

For the full article, click HERE

Unraveling Alzheimer's Disease: The Search for a Treatment

At Boston University, dozens of researchers are looking for tests that could lead to early diagnosis and interventions to prevent or delay the disease, running clinical trials that may result in treatments and an eventual cure, working to understand genetic risk factors, and studying Alzheimer’s impact on caregivers.

The Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, established in 1996, is one of 31 such centers nationwide funded by the National Institutes of Health and dedicated to conducting research into the disease, enhancing clinical care, and providing education.

In this special report, BU Today examines the work of five BU researchers.

Read the full article HERE