What are outcomes later in life for high school football players?

July 3, 2017, The JAMA Network Journals

In a study of men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957, playing high school football was not adversely associated with cognitive impairment or depression later in life, according to an article published by JAMA Neurology.

High is a popular sport but its safety has been questioned, in part by reports of , increased risks of neurodegenerative disease, and associations between a history of concussions and cognitive impairment and depression later in life among retired . Limited work has been done to examine playing high school football with cognitive impairment and depression later in life.

Dylan S. Small, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and coauthors used data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) of in the state in 1957, which included information on high school football participation and cognitive psychological well-being assessments of participants later in life in their 50s, 60s and 70s. However, the WLS data doesn't include history of concussion and total exposure to football before high school.

In the study of 3,904 men, high school football players were compared with their nonplaying counterparts and depression and were assessed in their 60s and 70s using composite cognition and depression scores.

The authors report cognitive and depression outcomes later in life were similar for high school football players and those who did not play.

The authors acknowledge their findings may not be generalizable to current high school football players because of changes in playing style, training techniques, protective equipment and rules aimed at improving safety.

"Among men graduating from high school in Wisconsin in 1957, we did not find evidence that playing football had a negative long-term association with cognitive functioning and mental health at 65 and 72 years of age. Although our findings may not generalize to current players, they may be relevant to current athletes playing contact sports with similar mean levels of head trauma as among the WLS football players. Repeating our analysis with a younger cohort as they reach 65 years of age may improve our understanding of how the risks of playing football have evolved over time," the article concludes.

Explore further: High school football players, 1956-1970, did not have increase of neurodegenerative diseases: study

More information: JAMA Neurology (2017). DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.1317

Related Stories

High school football players, 1956-1970, did not have increase of neurodegenerative diseases: study

December 12, 2016
A Mayo Clinic study published online today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that varsity football players from 1956 to 1970 did not have an increased risk of degenerative brain diseases compared with athletes in other varsity ...

Head impact exposure increases as youth football players get older, bigger

June 21, 2017
Youth football players are exposed to more and more forceful head impacts as they move up in age- and weight-based levels of play, according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Concussion outcomes differ among football players from youth to college

May 2, 2016
Concussions in high school football had the highest average number of reported symptoms and high school football players had the highest proportion of concussions with a return-to-play time of at least 30 days compared with ...

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 25-year-old former football player

January 4, 2016
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with repetitive head impacts and can be diagnosed only by autopsy after death.

Difference found in brain area linked to memory among college football players

May 13, 2014
Preliminary research finds that within a group of collegiate football players, those who experienced a concussion or had been playing for more years had smaller hippocampal volume (an area of the brain important for memory) ...

Study shows thinning of brain tissue remains in college football players

November 30, 2016
A growing body of research continues to raise concerns about the effects of head trauma sustained while participating in popular contact sports, particularly football. But this may not be confined to professional players ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.