"This is the first study of women soccer players who are now at the age where we may be seeing the beginnings of a neurodegenerative disease," said Stern.
Including Chastain and Akers, the study will follow 20 former high-level female soccer players.
"We are comparing these women who have a history of repetitive hits to the head with other same-age women who don't have that kind of history," Stern explained.
The findings could lead to even more changes in a sport loved and played all over the country, including in Needham.
Coach Joe Wooding coaches a co-ed soccer camp and said the game has changed a lot over the last two decades.
"When I was a kid, brain injuries weren't considered. You just played," said Wooding.
U.S. Soccer Federation rules prohibit players 10 years and under from heading the ball, and kids 11-13 can only head in practice, not games.
Right now, there is not a lot of evidence to show the impact playing soccer has on the brain, but researchers at BU are certainly hoping to change that.