Heading in football – Is it harmful for the brain?

Football is the world's most popular sport, with more than 265 million players worldwide. In football, unprotected heading of the ball is an integral part of the game. Despite recent research having suggested that this might have a negative impact on brain health, we still know very little of its long- and short-term effects. But we’re going to find out!

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Formal title

Repetitive subconcussive head impacts – Brain alterations and clinical consequences

Formal

1) To evaluate brain alterations and clinical consequences of repetitive head impacts in football
2) to develop diagnostic biomarkers
3) to evaluate methods for quantifying head impacts
4) to characterize head‑impact exposure in youth football.   

Description

REPIMPACT is a prospective cohort study that evaluates the effects of repetitive head impacts in youth football. Specifically, a group of male youth football players (14 to 16 yrs) are compared to a group of non-contact sport athletes (e.g. swimmers, cyclists etc.). The participants are followed for a total of 12 months, completing a testing battery before and after a competitive season (including MRI and neuropsychological tests). This allows for a detailed evaluation of the potential effects of repetitive head impacts (i.e. heading) on brain health and development. The project is part of a multisite study, collecting data in Norway, Belgium and Germany, and will finish in 2020.

 REPIMPACT is the foundation for all of Stian’s projects. Click the links for more specific information on each study:

Study 1: Laboratory and on-field validation of in-ear accelerometers for quantifying head impact exposure in soccer

Study 2: Repetitive subconcussive head impacts – Brain alterations and clinical consequences (REPIMPACT)

Study 3: Tau protein and neurofilament light chain in serum as novel biomarkers for mild traumatic brain injury and repetitive subconcussive head impacts in soccer

Study 4: Dysregulated miRNAs in serum: Their potential as novel biomarkers for mild traumatic brain injury and repetitive subconcussive head impacts in soccer