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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Repeated Sub-Concussive Impacts and the Negative Effects of Contact Sports on Cognition and Brain Integrity
Author(s): Ntikas, Michail
Binkofski, Ferdinand
Shah, N Jon
Ietswaart, Magdalena
Keywords: contact sports
traumatic brain injury
brain health
dementia prevention
fluid biomarkers
Issue Date: Jun-2022
Date Deposited: 9-Jun-2022
Citation: Ntikas M, Binkofski F, Shah NJ & Ietswaart M (2022) Repeated Sub-Concussive Impacts and the Negative Effects of Contact Sports on Cognition and Brain Integrity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (12), Art. No.: 7098.
Abstract: Sports are yielding a wealth of benefits for cardiovascular fitness, for psychological resilience, and for cognition. The amount of practice, and the type of practiced sports, are of importance to obtain these benefits and avoid any side effects. This is especially important in the context of contact sports. Contact sports are not only known to be a major source of injuries of the musculoskeletal apparatus, they are also significantly related to concussion and sub-concussion. Sub-concussive head impacts accumulate throughout the active sports career, and thus can cause measurable deficits and changes to brain health. Emerging research in the area of cumulative sub-concussions in contact sports has revealed several associated markers of brain injury. For example, recent studies discovered that repeated headers in soccer not only cause measurable signs of cognitive impairment but are also related to a prolonged cortical silent period in transcranial magnetic stimulation measurements. Other cognitive and neuroimaging biomarkers are also pointing to adverse effects of heading. A range of fluid biomarkers completes the picture of cumulating effects of sub-concussive impacts. Those accumulating effects can cause significant cognitive impairment later in life of active contact sportswomen and men. The aim of this review is to highlight the current scientific evidence on the effects of repeated sub-concussive head impacts on contact sports athletes’ brains, identify the areas in need of further investigation, highlight the potential of advanced neuroscientific methods, and comment on the steps governing bodies have made to address this issue. We conclude that there are indeed neural and biofluid markers that can help better understand the effects of repeated sub-concussive head impacts and that some aspects of contact sports should be redefined, especially in situations where sub-concussive impacts and concussions can be minimized.
DOI Link: 10.3390/ijerph19127098
Rights: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
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