Sports career-related concussion and mental health symptoms in former elite athletes

V. Gouttebarge*, G. M.M.J. Kerkhoffs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: In elite sports, concussion is common and recurrent, especially in high-speed contact or collision sports such as american and australian football, ice hockey and rugby. Mental health symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance) are often reported by former elite athletes, with prevalence ranging from 16% for distress to 26% for anxiety/depression. This article focuses on the potential relationship between sports career-related concussion and mental health symptoms in former elite athletes. Method: A narrative mini-review was based on the scientific literature. Results: Some literature based on cross-sectional data suggests that sports career-related concussion might lead in the long term to mental health symptoms in former elite athletes. Retired professional American football players reporting three or more previous concussions were found to be three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with no history of concussion. Former professional athletes from football, ice hockey and rugby who reported a history of six or more concussions were approximately up to five times more likely to report mental health symptoms. Conclusions: While longitudinal evidence about any causal relationship is lacking, the suggested relationship between sports career-related concussion and mental health symptoms in former elite athletes warrants the development of support measures for elite athletes transitioning out of sport, especially for those with a history of concussion.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurochirurgie
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

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