Deshpande SK, Hasegawa RB, Rabinowitz AR, Whyte J, Roan CL, Tabatabaei A, Baiocchi M, Karlawish JH, Master CL, Small DS. Association of Playing High School Football With Cognition and Mental Health Later in Life. JAMA Neurol. Published online July 03, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.1317
Among the 3904 men in the study, after matching and model-based covariate adjustment, compared with each control condition, there was no statistically significant harmful association of playing football with a reduced composite cognition score or an increased modified Center for Epidemiological Studies’ Depression Scale depression score. After adjustment for multiple testing, playing football did not have a significant adverse association with any of the secondary outcomes, such as the likelihood of heavy alcohol use at 65 years of age. Cognitive and depression outcomes later in life were found to be similar for high school football players and their nonplaying counterparts from mid-1950s in Wisconsin. The risks of playing football today might be different than in the 1950s, but for current athletes, this study provides information on the risk of playing sports today that have a similar risk of head trauma as high school football played in the 1950s.