Newsday ran a story on a study by the Radiological Society of North America about changes in the brains of young people who sustain heavy hits in football, even though they don't receive concussions ["One H.S. season can change brain," Sports, Dec. 2]. This was correlated with another study that showed that the more the brain changed over a single season, the worse athletes performed on learning and memory tests.
One gets the impression football limits all participants' brain capacity and that parents allowing a child to participate are negligent, if not irresponsible. However, let's look at frequent concussions, from youth to professional football, from a different perspective.
Many TV football analysts -- for example, Troy Aikman, Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason -- sustained traumatic brain injuries during their football careers. Yet one would not question their cognitive or intellectual capacities.
Perhaps Newsday should report on studies that are trying to identify why some football players seem to experience serious long-term effects, but others do not. It could be the presence of a unique enzyme or an inflammatory mediator in the brain released during a traumatic brain injury that's responsible.
Clearly there is a difference that cannot be explained simply by the number or severity of traumatic brain injuries.
Dr. Karl Friedman, Syosset
Editor's note: The writer is a supervising physician for Nassau County public high school football championships and state lacrosse championships.