A new Canadian study suggests teenage athletes who sustain concussions may still be experiencing brain changes even after they have been cleared to return to play. Researchers at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine examined 17 bantam hockey players aged 11 to 14 who suffered concussions while playing. They studied MRIs the players received 24 to 72 hours after they were concussed, and then another set of MRIs the players received three months later.
At the time of the second brain scans, the athletes showed no outward concussion symptoms and all had been cleared using the standardized return-to-play protocol. But the Western researchers found those most-recent brain scans demonstrated that changes were still occurring in the athletes’ brains. The changes related to damage to the brain’s white matter, the wiring that connects different parts of the brain.