Three or more prior concussions were associated with adverse health outcomes in former collegiate football players without professional football exposure, according to results published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
“The findings underscore the need for prevention efforts to reduce the incidence of concussion, as well as efforts to support former athletes who may experience such adverse effects,” the authors wrote. “Continued research is needed, however, to further demonstrate the clinical meaningfulness of reported differences in health outcomes associated with concussion history. To that end, the rich cohort of athletes from the NCAA Concussion Study should continue to be followed through additional prospective studies to better understand the development and progression of long-range neurologic health problems across the life span.”
Researchers had 204 former collegiate football players who played at least one season of football from 1999 to 2001 in the NCAA and had no professional football exposure complete a general health survey that assessed lifetime concussion history. The questionnaire included the Veterans RAND 36-item health survey which contained a physical composite score and mental composite score, the depression module of the patient health questionnaire and the four-item CAGE alcohol dependence questionnaire.
Results showed 84.3% of participants reported a concussion history. Researchers found 22.1% of participants reported a physical composite score and 39.2% reported a mental composite score of less than 50, indicating worse health than the U.S. national average. A patient health questionnaire score of 10 or more was reported by 19.1% of participants and a CAGE score of 2 or more was reported by 24.8% of participants, according to results. Compared with athletes who reported no concussions, researchers noted participants who reported three or more concussions had a higher prevalence of having a mental composite score of less than 50.
When controlling for BMI, results showed a higher prevalence of moderate/severe depression among participants who reported three or more concussions vs. those with no concussions. Participants who reported three or more concussions had a higher prevalence of having a physical component score less than 50 compared with participants with one or two concussions, but not when compared with participants who reported no concussions. Researchers found no associations for alcohol dependence. – by Casey Tingle
Disclosures: This research was funded in part by a grant from the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.