Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Natural Sciences

Program or Major

Biology with Concentration in Neuroscience and Behavior

Faculty Advisor

Stuart Cromarty


Head injuries, Concussion, High school athletes, College athletes, Sports injuries in children


Millions of Americans sustain traumatic head injuries each year when participating in various high and low-risk activities. Athletes, in general, are more prone to sustaining brain injuries than others, particularly those that participate in collision sports. This thesis discusses brain damage and long-term effects incurred by collision sport-related traumatic brain injuries such as the formation of amyloid-beta plaques in brain tissue and the increased possibility of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. In addition, brain development and plasticity over time are reviewed revealing the concept that brain plasticity and brain development are key processes that occur throughout childhood, adolescence, and to some degree into adulthood. Together, the discussions of these topics are the basis for the creation of a logical and analytical hypothesis as to whether young or adult athletes have the potential to incur more severe, long-term damage. The resulting hypothesis is that it is worse for young athletes to sustain head injuries since brain development largely impacts an individuals' quality of life. However, their injuries might be less apparent than in an adult because of the brain's plastic abilities enabling them to compensate and remain functioning at a high level despite their injuries.