In a forthcoming study to appear in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine of 595 football players who experienced three or more concussions, 20.2% were found to have depression. The National Football League has refuted the survey results and attacked the methodology of the study. The facts speak louder than the attack in the form of professional football athletes who have shared their personal stories like former Patriots Linebacker, Ted Johnson who reported depression and cognitive problems. Certainly, the suicide death of former Philadelphia Eagles player, Andre Waters, also carries the story home. A neuropathologist who examined Mr. Waters brain concluded that repeated concussions caused the problems which resulted in Mr. Waters taking his own life.The debate between the NFL and the American College of Sports Medicine will carry on for some time as there is much at stake for the NFL and for the players.
For those of us who work in traumatic brain injury, we know that repeated concussion can result in cognitive and psychological changes. A concussion is a brain injury and multiple concussions are multiple brain injuries.Coaches, players and parents need to be mindful of the risks of repeated concussive injuries. They can result in significant problems which can be life changing. As schools gear up for fall training, let's remember to follow the guidelines for evaluation prior to returning players to the game if concussion is suspected.