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The effects of repeat concussion injuries on athletes, particularly American football and rugby players, is one of the biggest concerns in competitive sports today. However, a new Oxford University collaboration suggests that blows to the head can cause lasting trauma - even in the absence of signs of concussion.

The findings suggest that attempts to monitor and prevent concussions in sport, such as new designs for helmets, may be futile, since nothing can change the motion of head movement inflicted by a flying tackle.

Published in the journal Brain, the research identified early signs of the brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) after head injuries. The signs of the disease not only persisted long after the initial injury, but spread through the brain. The study provides the most conclusive evidence to date that it is repeated head impacts, such as tackles – even mild ones, and not concussion, that causes the disease.

Find out more (University of Oxford website)

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