Study examines long-term cognitive effects of high school football

Image courtesy MGN Online.

(WLUK) -- A new study suggests that playing high school football does not increase the risk of cognitive impairment and depression later in life.

The study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology looked at men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. The data came from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which followed 10,317 men and women who graduated in 1957.

According to the study, "there was no statistically significant harmful association of playing football with a reduced composite cognition score...or an increased modified Center for Epidemiological Studies’ Depression Scale depression score" at age 65.

Playing football was also not associated with a higher likelihood of heavy alcohol use.

"For current athletes, this study provides information on the risk of playing sports today that have a similar risk of head trauma as high school football played in the 1950s," the authors wrote.

The study looked at results from 834 men who played high school football in the 1950s.

Football-related concussions have been a topic of discussion since the discovery of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former players, many of whom suffered from dementia, depression and other mental illnesses.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association this spring announced it would begin offering concussion insurance to all Wisconsin high school athletes.

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