A recent study of retired NFL players found those who experienced at least three concussions during their careers had triple the risk of suffering from depression than those players who had no concussions.
The study of 2,500 retired players, conducted through UNC-Chapel Hill Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and published in the journal of American College of Sports Medicine, said the findings are not only relevant to the 60-year-old retired player, but to those currently playing in the NFL. This research could also have implications for people who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury.
Athletes …who recalled one or two concussions were 1 1/2 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, said Kevin Guskiewicz, research director of the center.
The NFL began a concussion management program in the mid-1990s which prompted new helmet designs. “It will be interesting to see in 40 years what happens to these current players who have better management,” Dr. Gerry Gioia, director of the pediatric neuropsychology program and the Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery & Education program at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.
There have been reports that NFL teams push their players back onto the playing field too soon after a concussion. It was recently reported that 34-year-old Ted Johnson of the New England Patriots, shows early signs of Alzheimer ‘s disease. Back in 2002, he suffered two concussions in four days. A forensic pathologist who studied NFL player Andre Waters’ brain said that it had been damaged by concussions. Waters killed himself last November.
It will be interesting to watch how the NFL takes on the responsibility of policing itself to protect players. This study illustrates that closed-head injuries and concussions can cause far more significant health problems than headaches and nausea.