Do UK university football club players suffer neuropsychological impairment as a consequence of their football (soccer) play?

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2009 Aug;31(6):664-81. doi: 10.1080/13803390802484755. Epub 2008 Dec 1.


Male players from football and rugby clubs and sportsmen from a variety of noncontact sports clubs at a UK university were compared on biographical and neuropsychological test measures. A data analysis paradigm was developed and employed to control the inflation of Type 1 error rate due to multiple hypotheses testing. Rugby players sustained most head injuries in their chosen sport, but neuropsychological tests of attention, memory, and executive function provided no evidence of performance impairment attributable to the number of head injuries sustained or the football, rugby, or noncontact sport groups. Footballers' heading frequency was related to the number of football head injuries sustained, but no relationship was detected between footballers' heading frequency and their neuropsychological test performance. Following discussion of pertinent methodological limitations it is concluded that there was no evidence in this dataset of neuropsychological impairment consistent with either mild head injury incidence or football heading frequency. However, a need for further research examining the long-term neuropsychological consequences of such head injuries was identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications*
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • United Kingdom
  • Universities / organization & administration*
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult