The Retired Professional Rugby Players Brain Health Study

The Retired Professional Rugby Players Brain Health Study commenced in 2012 and has become a large, multidisciplinary, multinational, and multi-year program of research that is working towards advancing our understanding of later-in-life brain health in former professional rugby league and rugby union players. The objectives of this program include:

Aim 1: The Retired Rugby Players Health Survey. A health survey study is available to all former rugby players. Developed over two years in collaboration with colleagues at Harvard Medical School the survey will help our understanding of the health, well-being, and quality of life of former professional rugby players. From this data, we will attempt to determine the extent to which former players might benefit from specific types of health care services.

Aim 2: Examine the Brain Health of Retired Professional Rugby Players (In-person Clinical Evaluation and Multimodal Neuroimaging). We are conducting an in-person comprehensive study of the brain health of retired professional rugby players. This study involves extensive psychological testing, cognitive testing, and multimodal experimental brain imaging, with the purpose of comprehensively evaluating the brain health of former professional rugby players.

As at the end of August 2019 there are 108 retired rugby players who have completed the in-person clinical evaluation and a sub-set who have completed both the in-person clinical evaluation and multimodal neuroimaging. Many of the recruited participants are now returning for a second (i.e., repeat/serial) assessment.

Previous Publications

i. Gardner AJ, Iverson GL, Wojtowicz M., Levi C.R., Kay-Lambkin F., Schofield P.W., Shultz S.R., Zafonte R.D., Lin A.P., & Stanwell P. (2017). MR Spectroscopy Findings in Retired Professional Rugby League Players. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(3):241-252.

ii. Wojtowicz M, Gardner AJ, Stanwell P, Zafonte RD, Dickerson B, & Iverson GL. (2018). Cortical and subcortical brain volumes in retired professional rugby league players. NeuroImage: Clinical, 18:377-381.

iii. Iverson GL, Terry DP, Luz M, Zafonte R, McCrory P, Solomon GS, & Gardner AJ. (2019). Anger and depression in middle-aged men: Implications for a clinical diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, in press.

iv. Iverson GL, Gardner AJ, Shultz SR, Solomon G, McCrory PE, Zafonte RD, Perry G, Hazrati L, Keene CD, & Castellani R. (2019). Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Neuropathology Might Not Be Inexorably Progressive or Unique to Repetitive Neurotrauma. Brain, in press.

v. Iverson GL, & Gardner AJ. (2019). Risk for Misdiagnosing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Men with Depression. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, in press.

vi.  Manley GT, Gardner AJ, Schneider KJ, Guskiewicz KM, Bailes J, Cantu RC, Castellani RJ, Turner M, Jordan B, Randolph C, Dvořák J, Tator CH, McCrory P, & Iverson GL. (2017). A Systematic Review of Potential Long-Term Effects of Sport-Related Concussion. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(12):969-977.

vii. Iverson GL, Gardner AJ, McCrory P, Zafonte R, & Castellani R. (2015). A critical review of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 56: 276-293.

viii. Gardner AJ, Iverson GL, McCrory P. (2014). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in sport: as systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48(2): 84-90.

ix. McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Kutcher JS, Jordan BD, Gardner AJ. (2013). What is the evidence for chronic concussion-related changes in retired athletes: behavioural, pathological and clinical outcomes? British Journal of Sports Medicine. 47(5): 327-330.