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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 11:20 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
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Location: Boston, MA
Saw an article last week regarding a Dannish (? Swedish, can't remember...) study on professional soccer players. As a group, the soccer players seemed to have more problems with short term memory, problem solving, and other mental functions, compared to amatuer athletes.

This was attributed to constant head contact from collisions and "heading the ball" over the course of a soccer player's career.

People who spar regularly should take this info into consideration and make whatever adjustments they deem fit in their training, if they haven't already from seeing "punch drunk" boxers and fighters.

david

[This message has been edited by david (edited 09-29-98).]


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 16, 1998 6:01 am
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How about compared to hockey players?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 8:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
David (david)

Studies like the one you mentioned are "suggestive" but not "conclusive". Even if the studies were properly done as they stated (and I have my doubts given the experimental design), one cannot make a leap of logic to conclude that heading the ball causes loss of memory and other aspects of cognitive function. The biggest flaw in the design of this study that disqualifies it as proving causality is an issue of selection bias. What were the other sports involved? Certainly not boxing, right? Otherwise this would completely throw the whole basket of conclusions out the window. Was it lacrosse? Johns Hopkins always has one of the best lacrosse programs in the country. They are always fed by all the preppie high schools where playing lacrosse is considered "smarter" than getting your body trashed in football. Therefore, one *might* expect the average lacrossse player to be smarter than, say, the average football player or even soccer player. See what I mean? The best way to do a more conclusive study like this is via something called a repeated measures design. J.D. mentioned something to that effect in his post. You measure various aspects of congnitive function before and after playing the respective sports for some predetermined length of time. And even better, you randomly assign people to the various sports rather than have them self-select.

There are other possible contributing factors here. Do professional soccer players drink more than the other amateur athletes that were surveyed? This is a good way to kill neurons. I'd be surprised if we didn't see an effect like this in rugby players that has nothing to do with the contact in the sport.

Moral of the story, the results are suggestive but I'm not going to tell my son to not play soccer. I've seen too many preliminary studies with poor design like this suggest things that didn't pan out when more careful studies followed.

Even so, you are *still* going to need to pay me on the order of a milllion or more to do full contact sparring. There I can expect the result based on first principles as well as repeated measures studies and pathology evidence. It's stupid to get your head beat in for free unless you are already stupid or you don't need your head to make a living.

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 09-29-98).]


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 1998 12:24 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
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Location: Boston, MA
Kevin: Does figure skating count...? The few sports mentioned were "non-contact".

Bill & Doctor X: I knew I can count on you to elucidate further. The article I read was very brief, giving some "findings", without going into the specifics of the study design.

I think the "self-selection" variable is a good point. Lets say they compare professional soccer players to professional boxers. I bet the latter, as a group, has more diminished mental functions. Is this due to more targeted, intentional hits to the noggin, or the fact that a rather "select" group chooses boxing as "viable" career? Personally, I suspect it's a combination of both.

Perhaps, Bill can do a new experimental design, with random assignments and pre/post tests. Doctor X can cut 'em up afterwards and confirm. (THIS IS A JOKE!)

david

[This message has been edited by david (edited 09-29-98).]


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