A study by researchers at UT Southwestern investigated the cognitive abilities of retired professional football players who had concussions while playing. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
DALLAS – February 2, 2023 – A study of retired professional football players by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found their cognitive performance did not differ significantly from a control group of age-matched men who did not play football. , found that those abilities were not shown. A big change in 1 to 5 years.Findings published in brain injurysuggest that exposure to concussion or head injury in National Football League (NFL) players is not a predictor of subsequent neurocognitive decline.
Dr. Munro Cullum is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, Neurosurgery and Chief of Psychology at UTSW. He specializes in assessing cognitive impairment and is the senior author of this study.
“This is, to our knowledge, the first study to measure cognitive functioning in older NFL retirees over time, and compared with carefully matched peers, was significantly less likely to experience head injury exposure.” We provide evidence that the degree is not related to neurocognitive changes over time.” The senior author of the study, Dr. Munro Cullum, is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery at UTSW. He claims to be the head of psychology. “This is significant given the media portrayals of some of the cognitive impairments that the professional American routinely associates with his football playing history.”
The impact of concussions and repeated blows to the head on NFL players has been a growing concern in recent years after it was discovered that many former NFL player deaths had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). increase. His CTE, a neuropathological condition associated with repetitive head trauma, has been identified in some former football players and boxers, as well as blast-exposed veterans. However, its true cause is unknown and can only be diagnosed by autopsy.
Medical professionals have been challenged to better understand how repeated head trauma and other factors contribute to degenerative changes in the brain. Mixed results have been reported for its relationship to subsequent neuropsychological function. Some studies have suggested that former NFL players may have lower verbal memory and executive function scores, but a review of the literature found that other studies found no difference compared to controls. I couldn’t get it.
A recent survey by faculty and trainees from UTSW’s Department of Psychiatry, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation included 53 former NFL players aged 50 and over, 26 healthy controls, mild cognitive impairment or dementia. included 83 people. Participants were matched as closely as possible to NFL retirees by age and education who did not play collegiate or professional contact sports. underwent a clinical interview including Twenty-nine players from his one year he underwent follow-up evaluations spanning five years.
Players who retired in the study had an average of 5.63 concussions, 8.89 NFL years, and 115.12 games played.
Researchers reported that retired soccer players had slightly lower memory scores compared to healthy peer controls, but did not find this to be significantly associated with head injury exposure. This finding holds true regardless of whether players played positions that do not require speed (quarterback, lineman, linebacker) or positions that involve speed (running back, defensive back, receiver). I was. In addition, there was no significant change in the results after the evaluation.
Dr. Jeff Schaffert is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UTSW and the lead author of the study.
“These results underscore that not all NFL retirees will have cognitive problems later in life, and there is a clear dose difference between exposure to head injury and subsequent cognitive impairment. It adds to the complex and mixed literature about whether there is a reaction relationship,” said Jeff Schaffert. , Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UTSW and lead author of the study. “Our finding that some NFL retirees may have slightly lower memory scores is clinically meaningless and, importantly, a measure of exposure to head injury that we can assess. It had nothing to do with the value.”
Dr. Shaffert, a neuropsychologist, added that these latest findings are not the end of the story. It is important for deciding whether
Researchers at UT Southwestern are currently working on the College Level Aging Athlete Study known as CLEAATS. It aims to develop knowledge of college sports participation and sports-related concussions in relation to current brain health at the national level.
Dr. Karam is a clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in assessing cognitive impairment. “This study was the first to assess cognitive function in these athletes over time,” he said. “This also builds on the study on concussion aging, investigating other risk factors for concussion and subsequent cognitive decline.”
Ongoing work in the field at UTSW includes the Concussion-Texas (ConTex) study collecting data on sports-related concussions in middle and high school athletes, and the multisite Care4Kids study on post-concussion biomarkers and lingering symptoms in adolescents. Includes research.
Dr. Nyaz Didehbani, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UTSW, is a collaborator on this study.
“Our rich interdisciplinary research team makes UT Southwestern a natural environment for pursuing research in brain injury and brain aging,” said Dr. Cullum. “Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have contributed significantly to this body of work, and some of the faculty members conducting this latest research are proud to say that he was a former trainee at UTSW.”
Dr. Nyaz DidevaniAssociate Professor of Psychiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UTSW, and a collaborator on the study, said research efforts on brain aging continue in new ways. study It was funded by the Darrell K Royal Research Fund. College-level Aging Athlete Research. survey of women and male athletes Currently over 50 years old, They were members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
“Our concussion research team is unique in that our project spans lifespans from young people to older retired athletes,” said Dr Didevani. “The focus of this project is to focus on the brain health of athletes over time and extend the reach to the larger athlete representation.”
Other researchers who contributed to this work include Christian LoBue, John Hart Jr., Heidi Rossetti, Kristin Wilmoth, Will Goette, Laura Lacritz of UTSW, and Michael Motes of the University of Texas at Dallas.
This work was supported by the Texas Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care Consortium, Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, part of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UTSW.
Dr. Callum is the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology and is the Scientific Director of the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC).
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
One of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, UT Southwestern combines pioneering biomedical research with excellence in clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has won his six Nobel Prizes, his 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, his 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute research person is included. More than 2,900 full-time faculty members are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to rapidly translating science-driven research into new clinical treatments. A UT Southwestern physician, in more than 80 specialties, he provides care to over 100,000 inpatients, over 360,000 emergency room cases, and supervises nearly 4 million outpatient visits annually. .