It has been postulated that a higher altitude increases cerebral blood flow, which causes venous blood engorgement, increases intracranial pressure, and creates subsequent slight brain swelling and a tighter fit between the brain and the skull to decrease brain sloshing and reduce concussive events.1,2 The prospect of protecting the brain from within seems novel and exciting, but the proposed physiologic basis for this mechanism is not scientifically sound.3 Recent studies show conflicting data on whether the incidence of sports-related concussions are associated with altitude.1,2,4,5 Thus, we sought to determine whether the incidence of concussions from contact sports is different when the sport is played at sea level vs at a higher altitude.
Zavorsky GS, Smoliga JM. Risk of Concussion for Athletes in Contact Sports at Higher Altitude vs at Sea LevelA Meta-analysis. JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(11):1369-1370. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0795