With fall sports comes football... truly a fun and exciting time for most.
The real question is, are we ready for what comes with football? I know what you might be thinking. That because I’m Coach K, that I’m going to blog about concussions - but I’m not. Instead, I'm discussing sub-concussive impacts that add up to cause brain damage, and one thing that helps offset these injuries.
I want to make all readers aware of a recent article in the NY Times about sports head injury research conducted by Dr. R. Singh and colleagues just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It reported that freshman college football players who never had a concussion surprisingly were found to have shrinkage in perhaps the brain’s most important part, its memory and learning center (called the hippocampus or H for short).
Neuroscience researchers found on average a football players H was 16 percent smaller than college peers who did not play football. For football players with concussion histories, their Hs were 25 percent smaller. For football players, the longer they had played football matched up with the degree of left sided H shrinkage... concerning news, to say the least.
For anyone who didn’t know we were at war with youth sports head injuries, this was indeed a wake-up call to battle stations. The question is where to go and what to do? Is there anything that can help offset these brain damaging injuries that can no longer be denied or minimized, because thanks to these new-tech DTI scans we have measurable before/after pictures of them? The good news is yes there is!
There is a groundbreaking new solution for youth sports head injuries designed for players 21 and under called Brain Performance Enhancement for Youth or BPE Youth Fast-Track. I want to share with you one of its six best-practices that will help youth brains to be more resilient and best functioning: Stress Management or Cortisol reduction.
The reason most experts are so concerned about these sub-concussive impacts that accumulate is that they cause brain cells to be in a continuous state of inflammation, making brains even more susceptible to traumatic damage and disease. And unfortunately stress does the exact same thing which worsens this inflammation even more. Cortisol is the stress hormone... and if its level rises too much due to stress, our brains can’t produce new cells and the cells it has just don’t function as well.
Manage your stress well and you will be more likely to avoid traumatic brain injuries like concussion and off-set their newfound first-cousins, sub-concussive impacts that accumulate. Next time we will talk about a few different ways stress can be managed proactively, and be fun at the same time. Until then, let me leave you with a few stress and cortisol reduction tips:
Did you know that drinking green tea from extract reduces cortisol in the short term by 47 percent and improves brain functioning at the same time? Or listening to your favorite music in a relaxed situation can reduce cortisol by 66 percent?
Even chewing gum reduces cortisol in the very short term by 12-16 percent!
Indeed, the point is that sub-concussive blows aren’t the only things that can add up to affect brain cells and brain functioning. Neuroscientists have also discovered key behaviors that can add up to significantly improve the functioning, preservation and growth of brain cells! And now you know about a key one! And that’s today’s battle-station tip in the war against youth head injuries!
This is Coach K signing off for now!
For more resources about brain health and wellness, please visit: www.braininplay.com.