The 2014 FIFA World Cup is a good time to remind people that any impact to your head, including headers in soccer, can cause brain changes and abnormalities. This 2013 study in Radiology, showed brain changes by MRI in players that head the ball more.
Participants had headed 32-5400 times (median, 432 times) over the previous year. Heading was associated with lower FA at three locations in temporo-occipital white matter with a threshold that varied according to location (885-1550 headings per year) (P < .00001). Lower levels of FA were also associated with poorer memory scores (P < .00001), with a threshold of 1800 headings per year. Lifetime concussion history and demographic features were not significantly associated with either FA or cognitive performance.
Heading is associated with abnormal white matter microstructure and with poorer neurocognitive performance. This relationship is not explained by a history of concussion.