NFL Players Who Experienced Concussion Symptoms During Careers Show Reduced Cognitive Performance Decades After Retirement

Ken Stabler of the Oakland Raiders.

Former professional football players who reported experiencing concussion symptoms during their playing careers were found to perform worse on a battery of cognitive tests than non-players, according to a study led by Mass General Brigham investigators from McLean Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. Results of the study were published March 2nd inArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology. The article is titled “Association of Retrospectively Reported Concussion Symptoms with Objective Cognitive Performance in Former American-Style Football Players.” Of the more than 350 former National Football League (NFL) players who were studied an average of 29 years after their playing career ended, those who reported experiencing concussion symptoms during their careers scored worse on assessments of episodic memory, sustained attention, processing speed and vocabulary. However, the number of concussions diagnosed by a medical professional or length of playing career had no observed effect on cognition. A follow-up analysis compared the former players to more than 5,000 male volunteers in the general population who did not play professional football, which found that cognitive performance was generally worse for former players than nonplayers. While younger former players outperformed nonplayers on some tests, older retired players were more likely to perform worse than controls on cognitive tasks.

Login Or Register To Read Full Story