Dr. Luciano Minuzzi, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, recently led a study looking at brain health in former CFL players; the purpose was to determine long-term impact on brain health of the repeated blows to the head seen in football and other contact sports. Participants – 22 retired players and 20 healthy controls – underwent extensive testing over a two-year period. Many brain scans were conducted, with the outcome being cortical thinning (which suggests extensive neuron loss) in 65% of the cerebral cortex. For reference, individuals with brain disorders usually show about 5% thinning. These results are substantial and very unexpected: “It’s almost like seeing the brains of much older people,” Minuzzi stated. Brain health and contact sports are a hot issue right now: Robyn Wishart, a lawyer in Vancouver, has been involved in two lawsuits against the CFL because of the lack of information provided to players surrounding potential brain injuries. “I think the parents have a right to know what a long career in the sport of football could mean to the long-term health of their child.” This is a growing area of research, and in order to protect people’s brain health for the short-term as well as thinking about the long-term effects in older age, further studies need to be conducted and this information shared with the public.
DATE RETRIEVED: August 31, 2017