Bottom Line: Subconcussive head impacts from sports are those that don't cause symptoms of a concussion. This randomized clinical trial evaluated whether such subconcussive head impacts from soccer-ball headings impaired brain circuitry linking eye and cognitive functions in adult soccer players compared with a control group of players that only kicked the soccer ball. Neuro-ophthalmologic function was measured with a test of eye movement and brain functions such as attention, language and concentration. The study included 78 soccer players, of whom 40 players did 10 soccer-ball headings. Researchers report the kicking control group performed better on the test of neuro-ophthalmologic function at all points over 24 hours after the intervention than the heading group of players. The findings suggest subconcussive head impacts may affect neuro-eye function, at least in the short term. Limitations of the study include an inability to determine the observed effects beyond 24 hours and it is unknown whether prior exposure to soccer-ball heading affected the players' responses to 10 headings as part of the trial intervention.
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Authors: Keisuke Kawata, Ph.D., Indiana University School of Public Health, Bloomington, and coauthors.
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