Even so-called recreational athletes, those who sustained head injuries back in their high school and college “glory” days, permanently impact their brains, according to The New York Times.
The Times wrote about a study that appeared in the journal of Cerebral Cortex in May. In that research, scientists at the University of Montreal studied the brains of men, now middle-aged, who had played sports as athletes in high school and college. Some of these former student athletes had suffered concussions when they played decades ago.
In the study, scientists used MRIs to check the participants’ brains, as well as having them do tests to gauge their long- and short-term memory, according to The Times.
After all the testing, researchers found that there were differences between the brains of those who had concussions and those who hadn’t. In just one example, those who had head injuries as youths had “slightly less volume in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with memory and learning, than those who hadn’t been concussed,” The Times wrote.
And in fact, many of those that had brain injuries as youths “were just a little bit less able to recall and dredge up words and names” than those who hadn’t had head hits, according to The Times.
Essentially, the brains of those who had concussions when they were younger had undergone abnormal, quicker aging. The 50-year-olds had the equivalent of the brains of 60-year-olds who had never brain injury, The Times reported,