Robin van Persie might have taken the knee as a player and he wasn’t the only one. Wall, a study of traumatic brain injury in football players published on Monday, shows that Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy had significant brain damage following a serious head injury while playing for Barcelona in 2009.
After the injury, Wall studied seven former footballers who had suffered a concussion, including Van Nistelrooy, who still had measurable brain tissue changes two years after the injury. Although the doctors were unable to place the exact cause of his injuries, Van Nistelrooy’s repeated head knocks could have affected his balance and caused repeated concussions.
After his injuries, both Van Nistelrooy and Wall opted for the controversial treatment of bracing, or biomimetic scaffolds, to ease the symptoms of concussion.
“The concussed male had a definite decrease in brain volume after injury,” notes Wall, who discovered van Nistelrooy’s brain structural changes only a few months after his injury, when he ran the scans through the “blurring” software.
Wall says that for most participants, particularly those with few previous head injuries, the effect of the therapy on cognitive recovery was negligible. For dejected former players and athletes with ongoing problems, it proved to be a crucial step.