Doctors and sports experts from around the country met in the Virginia area this month to discuss the ongoing problem of head injuries and brain injuries in the NFL.

“Traumatic Brain Injury in Professional Football: An Evidence-Based Perspective,” was a one-day session held in Washington, DC, sponsored by the National Football League and attended by team doctors, managers, and others with an interest in keeping professional football players safe and healthy.

One of the main topics at the athlete traumatic brain injury conference was concussion and whether minor concussions are dangers – especially if players accumulate hundreds over their careers. Some studies have concluded that receiving a head injury shortly after receiving a concussion can be dangerous or even deadly, while others believe that large numbers of minor concussions can lead to long-term health problems including depression, dementia, drug abuse, personality changes, and motor control problems.

The head injuries in sports lecture also covered new technology that NFL team doctors could use to identify and track brain injuries, which can often be almost invisible. The speakers recommended electroencephalography and imaging as ways to determine whether a player needs to be treated and taken off of the playing field.

Unfortunately, the head injury meeting speaker did not talk extensively about some of the serious long-term effects of repetitive head injuries, saying that the studies that have connected head injuries with dementia and depression have been small and largely inconclusive. He did say, however, that he hopes more research will be done in the future to determine whether years of minor concussions could lead to problems in middle age and old age.