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Am J Sports Med. 2016 May;44(5):1106-15. doi: 10.1177/0363546515626164. Epub 2016 Feb 17.

Participation in Pre-High School Football and Neurological, Neuroradiological, and Neuropsychological Findings in Later Life: A Study of 45 Retired National Football League Players.

Author information

1
Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA gary.solomon@vanderbilt.edu.
2
MedSport-Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
3
Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
4
Department of Neurology, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, USA.
5
ProBiomechanics LLC, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA Department of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
6
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A recent study found that an earlier age of first exposure (AFE) to tackle football was associated with long-term neurocognitive impairment in retired National Football League (NFL) players.

PURPOSE:

To assess the association between years of exposure to pre-high school football (PreYOE) and neuroradiological, neurological, and neuropsychological outcome measures in a different sample of retired NFL players.

STUDY DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS:

Forty-five former NFL players were included in this study. All participants prospectively completed extensive history taking, a neurological examination, brain magnetic resonance imaging, and a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. To measure the associations between PreYOE and these outcome measures, multiple regression models were utilized while controlling for several covariates.

RESULTS:

After applying a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, none of the neurological, neuroradiological, or neuropsychological outcome measures yielded a significant relationship with PreYOE. A second Bonferroni-corrected analysis of a subset of these athletes with self-reported learning disability yielded no significant relationships on paper-and-pencil neurocognitive tests but did result in a significant association between learning disability and computerized indices of visual motor speed and reaction time.

CONCLUSION:

The current study failed to replicate the results of a prior study, which concluded that an earlier AFE to tackle football might result in long-term neurocognitive deficits. In 45 retired NFL athletes, there were no associations between PreYOE and neuroradiological, neurological, and neuropsychological outcome measures.

KEYWORDS:

National Football League; concussion; exposure; football; youth

PMID:
26888877
DOI:
10.1177/0363546515626164
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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