MINNEAPOLIS - A new study of NCAA football players has found that the age they first started playing tackle football may not affect their recovery after a concussion. The study is published in the September 9, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Evidence from previous research on the effect of early exposure to tackle football and long-term brain health has been mixed, with some studies showing worse performance on neuropsychological tests or changes in the brain, while other studies show no effect of playing football at a younger age.
"Because football is a very physical game, and concussions can occur, it has been hypothesized that playing at an early age may interfere with neurodevelopmental growth and increase a person's vulnerability to neurological problems later in life," said study author Thomas A. Buckley, Ed.D. A.T.C., of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our study in NCAA football players, some who started playing tackle football as early as age 5, found no link between playing football earlier in life and worse recovery from concussion."
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