October 3, 2023

JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Aug 1;6(8):e2328644. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.28644.


IMPORTANCE: Parkinsonism and Parkinson disease (PD) are known to result from repetitive head impacts from boxing. Repetitive head impacts from American football may also be associated with increased risk of neurodegenerative pathologies that cause parkinsonism, yet in vivo research on the association between football play and PD is scarce and limited by small samples and equivocal findings.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between football participation and self-reported parkinsonism or PD diagnosis.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional study leveraged data from the online Fox Insight study. Participants completed online questionnaires and self-reported whether they currently had a diagnosis of Parkinson disease or parkinsonism by a physician or other health care professional. In November 2020, the Boston University Head Impact Exposure Assessment was launched for data collection on repetitive head impacts. Data used for this manuscript were obtained from the Fox Insight database on June 9, 2022. A total of 1875 men who endorsed playing any organized sport were included. Former athletes were divided into those who participated in football (n = 729 [38.9%]) and those who participated in other sports (reference group).

EXPOSURES: Self-reported participation in football, duration and level of football play, age at first exposure.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Logistic regression tested associations between PD status and history of football play, duration of football play, highest level played, and age at first exposure, controlling for age, education, history of diabetes or heart disease, body mass index, history of traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness, and family history of PD.

RESULTS: In this sample of 1875 men (mean [SD] age, 67.69 [9.84] years) enriched for parkinsonism or PD (n = 1602 [85.4%]), 729 (38.9%) played football (mean [SD] duration, 4.35 [2.91] years). History of playing football was associated with higher odds of having a parkinsonism or PD diagnosis (odds ratio [OR], 1.61; 95% CI, 1.19-2.17). Among the entire sample, longer duration of play was associated with higher odds of having a parkinsonism or PD diagnosis (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.06-1.19). Among football players, longer duration of football play (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.02-1.23) and higher level of play (OR, 2.93; 95% CI, 1.28-6.73) were associated with higher odds of having parkinsonism or PD.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cross-sectional study of participants enriched for PD, participation in football was associated with higher odds of having a reported parkinsonism or PD diagnosis.

PMID:37566412 | PMC:PMC10422187 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.28644