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Study Says Football Causes Brain Damage In Kids Even Without Concussions

flickr / Brittany Randolph

Football Sundays are about teaching your kid a great many things — how to lose gracefully, how to cry like a man, how to get dad another beer from the fridge. Unfortunately the findings from a new study suggest that you may want to add a much more serious lesson to game day, and it’s don’t try this at home. Or on the field. Or at school. You get it.

The research, published in the journal of Radiology, looked at 25 football players between 8 and 13 years old over the course of the season, using the Head Impact Telemetry System to measure the force of head injuries, which were recorded on video during practices and games. Study participants also underwent pre and post-season multimodal neuroimaging evaluations, which included and advanced MRI technique diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). While the sample size was small, the end of the season results were a real kick in the head. Namely, children still showed neurological changes associated traumatic brain injuries, even without signs or symptoms of concussions.

The fact that professional football players are the most at risk of traumatic brain injuries in not news, and neither is the fact that they likely got to the pro level by getting in the game young. But as the study’s co-researcher Joel Stitzel explained to the The Atlantic, they’re not trying to kill youth football. Instead old Stitz and his team are trying to do the opposite and save youth football by encouraging more regulations based on the newest research about what this sport does to your brain — and of course, how to prevent it. Until then, the only head injury you risk playing fantasy football is dropping your phone on your face while laying down.

[H/T] The Atlantic