Soccer heading and subclinical neuropsychiatric symptomatology in professional soccer players

Nadav Amitay, Yair Zlotnik, Tara Coreanu, Lior Zeller, Ibrahim Abu-Salameh, Victor Novack, Gal Ifergane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the association between postconcussive symptomatology and heading in professional soccer players, overcoming the bias of self-reported exposure, we evaluated several clinical neuropsychiatric symptoms using questionnaires after a thorough objective follow-up of players' heading exposure throughout an entire season. METHODS: We collected heading data for all Israeli Premier League players for an entire season using a web-based platform for performance analysis, which enabled us to quantify the exact number of headers per player. Players filled out questionnaires regarding postconcussion symptoms, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. We tested the association between the number of headers and each outcome using a negative binomial regression corrected for the hours played. RESULTS: A total of 159 players were included, of whom 79 were considered in the high heading exposure group (49%), defined as more than median number of headings (1.34 per game hour). Among players without any past head injury, those with higher heading exposure were less likely to have postconcussion symptoms compared with players with low heading exposure (relative risk [RR] per heading per hour 0.94, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.912-0.963). Players with high heading exposure had fewer depression symptoms (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.961-0.997), anxiety (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.958-0.997), and sleep disorders (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.961-0.996). CONCLUSION: Professional soccer players with high heading rate do not display higher postconcussive symptomatology severity. Symptoms among players with low heading exposure might be explained by low resilience, possibly associated with an inferior heading technique. Alternatively, it can reflect heading-avoidant behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1776-e1783
JournalNeurology
Volume95
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - 29 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

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