Sports stars who suffer concussion during their careers can expect to suffer a mental decline years later, a survey shows.
Athletes who had been knocked out declined in their attention spans and recorded a slowing of some of their movements thirty years on compared with athletes who had no concussion.
New evidence, published in the neurology journal Brain, could prompt fears over the safety of the most physical contact sports, such as boxing.
Louis De Beaumont, who led the Canadian-based study, said: “This study shows that the effects of sports concussions in early adulthood persist beyond 30 years post-concussion and that it can cause cognitive and motor function alterations as the athletes age.
“In the light of these findings, athletes should be better informed about the cumulative and persistent effects of sports concussion on mental and physical processes so that they know about the risks associated with returning to their sport.”
Mr De Beaumont said that follow-up studies would be needed to investigate whether concussion could make former athletes more vulnerable to developing more severe mental and physical deterioration in later life associated with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Until now, most research into concussion and its effects concentrated on the immediate, post-concussion period and on improving decisions about when it is safe for an athlete to return to play.
Any potential long-term effects of concussion tended to be over-looked, the authors said.
Source: Daily Telegraph