Concussion and long-term cognitive function among rugby players-The BRAIN Study

Alzheimers Dement. 2022 Jun;18(6):1164-1176. doi: 10.1002/alz.12455. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Objective: The BRAIN Study was established to assess the associations between self-reported concussions and cognitive function among retired rugby players.

Methods: Former elite-level male rugby union players (50+ years) in England were recruited. Exposure to rugby-related concussion was collected using the BRAIN-Q tool. The primary outcome measure was the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC). Linear regressions were conducted for the association between concussion and PACC score, adjusting for confounders.

Results: A total of 146 participants were recruited. The mean (standard deviation) length of playing career was 15.8 (5.4) years. A total of 79.5% reported rugby-related concussion(s). No association was found between concussion and PACC (β -0.03 [95% confidence interval (CI): -1.31, 0.26]). However, participants aged 80+ years reporting 3+ concussions had worse cognitive function than those without concussion (β -1.04 [95% CI: -1.62, -0.47]).

Conclusions: Overall there was no association between concussion and cognitive function; however, a significant interaction with age revealed an association in older participants.

Keywords: cognitive function; occupational epidemiology; rugby; sports-related concussion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / psychology
  • Brain Concussion* / epidemiology
  • Cognition
  • Football*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rugby