Friday, September 7, 2012

Football Players Face Elevated Risk of Death From Neurological Causes

Professional football players may be at increased risk of death from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurological disorders, according to a new study in Neurology. Risk of death related to all neurological causes among professional football players who played in the National Football League from 1959 to 1988 was three times higher than for the general U.S. population, and the risk was four times higher for two of the major neurodegenerative subcategories—AD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Moreover, players who played “speed” positions—those such as receiver or running back that require acceleration before being hit or tackled—had a higher risk for neurological disorders than did those who played “non-speed” positions, such as lineman, that are more stationary.

The number of neurologically associated deaths in the study sample of more than 3,400 players was small, so the findings are not conclusive. But they echo previous research that found an association between head injury or multiple concussions and Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. And last year a study in Psychiatric Services showed an association between traumatic injury and psychiatric illness. For more information on that study, see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: My Portfolio/


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