Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Effects of heading exposure and previous concussions on neuropsychological performance among Norwegian elite footballers
  1. T M Straume-Naesheim1,
  2. T E Andersen1,
  3. J Dvorak2,
  4. R Bahr3
  1. 1Oslo Sports Trauma and Research Center, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre, Zurich, Switzerland
  3. 3Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 T M Straume-Naesheim
 Oslo Sports Trauma and Research Center, Oslo, Norway;


Background: Cross-sectional studies have indicated that neurocognitive performance may be impaired among football players. Heading the ball has been suggested as the cause, but recent reviews state that the reported deficits are more likely to be the result of head injuries.

Objective: To examine the association between previous concussions and heading exposure with performance on computer based neuropsychological tests among professional Norwegian football players.

Methods: Players in the Norwegian professional football league (Tippeligaen) performed two consecutive baseline neuropsychological tests (Cogsport) before the 2004 season (90.3% participation, n = 271) and completed a questionnaire assessing previous concussions, match heading exposure (self-reported number of heading actions per match), player career, etc. Heading actions for 18 players observed in two to four matches were counted and correlated with their self-reported values.

Results: Neither match nor lifetime heading exposure was associated with neuropsychological test performance. Nineteen players scored below the 95% confidence interval for one or more subtasks, but they did not differ from the rest regarding the number of previous concussions or lifetime or match heading exposure. The number of previous concussions was positively associated with lifetime heading exposure (exponent (B) = 1.97(1.03–3.75), p = 0.039), but there was no relation between previous concussions and test performance. Self-reported number of headings correlated well with the observed values (Spearman’s ρ = 0.77, p<0.001).

Conclusion: Computerised neuropsychological testing revealed no evidence of neuropsychological impairment due to heading exposure or previous concussions in a cohort of Norwegian professional football players.

  • football
  • soccer
  • heading
  • head trauma
  • neuropsychology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: none declared