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New Study Shows Soccer Players in Danger of Brain Damage

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- MedPage Today reports that a new study analyzing soccer players found that non-traumatic but repeated hits to the head could cause significant brain damage.

The study, headed by Dr. Inga Koerte of Harvard Medical School's Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, found that the average male competitive soccer player had a range of changes in the matter deep inside their brain, compared with that of a competitve swimmer.

Koerte and her team of researchers submitted a summary of the study in Wednesday's issue of the American Medical Association Journal, in which they said soccer players' frequent use of their heads to direct the ball could explain the head trauma, but also that "differences in head injury rates, sudden accelerations, or even lifestyle could contribute" as well.

There have been past studies done that show the long-term consequences repeated traumatic brain injuries can have, but scientists are still trying to determine the exact impact that less traumatic but frequent head injuries can have.

The study was conducted on a small group of young, elite soccer players in Germany all of whom were male, and all of whom had been playing soccer for an average of more than 13 years. The players underwent a series of special brain scans, called high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging, for in-depth analysis of brain matter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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