Concussion linked to mental health problems for ex-sportsmen by Fifpro study

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Players who had four of five concussions were 1.5 times more likely to report mental health problems, says the study

Ex-professional sportsmen who suffer concussion are more likely to report mental health problems than those who do not, according to new research.

It says those who had four or five concussions during their career were 1.5 times more likely to have anxiety, depression or sleep disturbance.

The Fifpro study questioned 576 former top-flight footballers, ice hockey and rugby players from eight countries.

Its author says concussion management can be improved by "educating players".

The study was carried out by the world players' union's chief medical officer, Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, and sports medicine experts from South Africa's University of Cape Town, Japan's St Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.

"This is an important piece of research that suggests concussion might be a contributor to the mental health problems suffered by many players," Gouttebarge said.

"We as football stakeholders - federations, clubs and player unions - need to be alert to the mental health of players, both during and after their careers.

"That means educating players about the dangers of what can be an intense and stressful career and supporting them when they need assistance."

The former players surveyed - all men under 50 and from Finland, France, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland - who suffered six concussions were between two and five times more likely to report symptoms of common mental disorders than those who had no concussions.

The findings suggest during the first 10 years after retirement players are seven to 11% more likely to report these symptoms.

However, the study says there is no suggestion these symptoms of common mental disorders indicate a degree of brain damage.

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