A study that tracked amateur Australian Rules football players for five years has found they likely returned to play from concussion with elevated levels of damaged brain cells, despite reporting no symptoms. The Monash University study collected blood samples from 28 male and female players, from Melbourne University Blacks, at two, six and 13 days after getting concussed between 2017 and 2019 to complete the study.
Researchers then focused on the blood bio-marker, known as the protein Neurofilament light (NfL), which if found at elevated levels can indicate brain cell damage. NfL was observed at increased levels in 20 players’ blood samples at six and 13 days post-concussion, but not after two days when symptoms were present. Researchers therefore found that blood bio-marker changes were present in those concussed after symptoms had subsided.