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Research Letter
November 2016

Risk of Concussion for Athletes in Contact Sports at Higher Altitude vs at Sea LevelA Meta-analysis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Respiratory Therapy, Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • 2Department of Physical Therapy, High Point University, High Point, North Carolina
  • 3Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, High Point University, High Point, North Carolina
JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(11):1369-1370. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0795

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.

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