AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


High School Football Players, 1956-1970, Did Not Have Increase of Neurodegenerative Diseases

A Mayo Clinic study found that varsity football players from 1956 to 1970 did not have an increased risk of degenerative brain diseases compared with athletes in other varsity sports. The researchers reviewed all the yearbooks and documented team rosters for Mayo High School and Rochester High School, now called John Marshall High School. The high school football players were compared with non-football playing athletes who were swimmers, basketball players and wrestlers. Using the medical records-linkage system of the Rochester Epidemiology Project, each student was observed for about 40 years after participation in high school sports. Among the 296 students who played football, the researchers found: 

-34 cases of head trauma
-five cases of cognitive impairment
-three cases of parkinsonism
-two cases of demetia
-zero cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Among the 190 non-football athletes, the researchers found: 

-14 cases of head trauma 
-four cases of mild cognitive impairment
-three cases of parkinsonism
-one case of dementia
-zero cases of ALS

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