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July 16, 1973

Epilepsy and Contact SportsFactors Contraindicating Participation

JAMA. 1973;225(3):285-287. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220300041009

It is wrong to consider epilepsy as a disease and accept as a corollary the proposition that the individual with this disease either should or should not participate in contact sports. Epilepsy is a symptom rather than a disease, and the causes of epilepsy are multiple. Categorical generalization, therefore, cannot be made with validity, and the question of sports participation must be individualized on the basis of multiple factors. The following discussion attempts to assemble certain aspects, which might contraindicate participation and must be weighed against those factors favoring participation.

Causes  In all likelihood the most common cause of epilepsy in the age group participating in contact sports is that relating to genetic influences. It is well known, however, that genetic influences are not absolute, and that a disease is not necessarily either inherited or not inherited. The genetic factor may simply imply a predisposition. There is little question that