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J Neurotrauma. 2017 Feb 15;34(4):790-797. doi: 10.1089/neu.2016.4585. Epub 2016 Sep 16.

Football Players' Perceptions of Future Risk of Concussion and Concussion-Related Health Outcomes.

Author information

1 Interfaculty Initiative in Health Policy, Harvard University , Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2 Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention , Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
3 Division of Sports Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital , Boston, Massachusetts.
4 University of Washington , Department of Pediatrics, Seattle, Washington.
5 Seattle Children's Research Institute , Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle, Washington.
6 Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center , Seattle, Washington.
7 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, Boston University , Boston, Massachusetts.
8 Brain Injury Center , Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Concussion is increasingly recognized as a risk of participation in contact and collision sports. There have been few examinations of athletes' perceptions of their susceptibility to concussion or concussion-related health consequences. We examine college football players' perceptions of their risk of sustaining a concussion and concussion-related health consequences in their future, whether these perceptions change over time, and how concussion history is related to perceived future risk of concussion and concussion-related health consequences. A survey was administered to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Championship Series athletes on 10 teams in 2013 and to nine of those teams in 2014. Athletes answered questions assessing their perceptions of concussion and potential concussion-related health consequences. Approximately 40% of athletes believed there was a strong possibility that they would sustain a concussion in the future, while approximately one-in-four thought a concussion would make them miss a few games. About one-in-10 athletes predicted dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy would develop from concussions. These beliefs were stronger among athletes who had sustained previous concussions. Across the two years studied, athletes' perceptions of the risk of concussion and missing a few games because of concussion decreased significantly. Overall, a substantial proportion of college football players believe they will have long-term health consequences as a result of sustaining sport-related concussions. The true incidence and prevalence of many of these outcomes are unknown. Further research is needed to determine whether athletes have an accurate perception of the risks of these outcomes developing.


American football; brain injury; chronic traumatic encephalopathy; concussion; risk

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