The BRAIN Study was established to assess the associations between self-reported concussions and cognitive function among retired rugby players.
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.
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]).
Overall there was no association between concussion and cognitive function; however, a significant interaction with age revealed an association in older participants.