Protection Before Impact: the Potential Neuroprotective Role of Nutritional Supplementation in Sports-Related Head Trauma

Sports Med. 2018 Mar;48(Suppl 1):39-52. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0847-3.


Even in the presence of underreporting, sports-related concussions/mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are on the rise. In the absence of proper diagnosis, an athlete may return to play prior to full recovery, increasing the risk of second-impact syndrome or protracted symptoms. Recent evidence has demonstrated that sub-concussive impacts, those sustained routinely in practice and competition, result in a quantifiable pathophysiological response and the accumulation of both concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained over a lifetime of sports participation may lead to long-term neurological impairments and an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. The pathophysiological, neurometabolic, and neurochemical cascade that initiates subsequent to the injury is complex and involves multiple mechanisms. While pharmaceutical treatments may target one mechanism, specific nutrients and nutraceuticals have been discovered to impact several pathways, presenting a broader approach. Several studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective effect of nutritional supplementation in the treatment of mTBI. However, given that many concussions go unreported and sub-concussive impacts result in a pathophysiological response that, too, may contribute to long-term brain health, protection prior to impact is warranted. This review discusses the current literature regarding the role of nutritional supplements that, when provided before mTBI and traumatic brain injury, may provide neurological protection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Brain Concussion*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Neuroprotective Agents*
  • Rats
  • Sports


  • Neuroprotective Agents