Most NFL Players Have A Poor Vocabulary – Part 2 of 3
An scholar on sports concussion is familiar with the findings. “The most important finding is that the researchers were able to find the correlation between white matter changes and cognitive deficits,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, founding skipper of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The imaging tests also revealed differences in blood flow to certain areas of the brain among the athletes who had cognitive impairments, with regions complicated in word finding associated with increased blood flow and regions linked to naming and verbal memory associated with drops in blood flow. The fait accompli that some areas are getting more blood than expected suggests that there is active white matter damage going on in these areas, and that they are trying to compensate with more blood flow.
If the damage had already been done, or if it was associated with normal aging, you would wait for to see only drops in blood flow. Hart said he hopes that these imaging tests will prove useful for diagnosing athletes with cognitive impairments, although he pointed out that the tests used in the advised study were only for research purposes.
Guskiewicz said there could be a real-world benefit. “Seeing changes early, at age 45 or 50, might allow us to intervene through cognitive rehabilitation or some sort of medication. Often when these things are diagnosed, it is too late”. The additional study also found that four players had fixed cognitive impairment, which had probably not changed since their head injury, and two had dementia, which was a rate similar to the general population.