Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Charles J. Golden

Second Advisor

Lisa K. Lashley

Third Advisor

Robert E. Seifer


concussion, neuropsychology, NFL, subconcussive


This study examined how repeated head-impact-related traumatic brain injury experienced by retired NFL players impacts their neuropsychological functioning, as well as whether player position was a significant factor in the impairment experienced. Participants (N=142) were selected from an archival database gathered through the NFL Concussion Settlement belonging to the Neuropsychology Assessment Center of Nova Southeastern University.

One-Sample T-Tests indicated that the combined sample and the Skilled players group demonstrated significant differences in all neuropsychological measures, while the Linemen and Skilled Linemen evidenced impairment in most areas except in visual-spatial and non-timed language measures. Two-way ANOVAs indicated player position and ethnicity main effects, as well as interaction effects.

Findings indicate that the greatest impairments evidenced in executive functioning, processing speed, and verbal memory amongst this population. The memory difficulties noted were hypothesized to be further impacted and mediated by the impaired ability to come up at utilize organizational and compensatory strategies in order to create further structure can mediate and impact their performance in such tasks.

Regarding language abilities, it can be hypothesized that non-timed, non-memory-based language tasks, such as the WAIS-IV Similarities subtest and the Boston Naming Test are the least susceptible to being affected by diffused forms of brain injury experienced by all player position groups. The results in this study appeared to indicate that all player groups did not show significant impairment primarily in subtests measuring visual spatial functioning measures.

Significant differences were found between the player groups themselves, indicating that experiencing frequent and repetitive head injuries may lead to chronic neurological and neuropsychological impairment, which may lead to the continuous disruption of the recovery process and possible syndromes such as second impact syndrome. Additionally, these findings indicate that experiencing of repetitive subconcussive injuries can lead to significant neurological alternations as well. Significant differences related to ethnicity were further evident on the majority of measures. The present study suggests that the retired NFL players experience deficits that are significantly different from those evidenced in the general population. This research could further inform professionals and the general population about the potential long-term consequences of multiple brain injuries.

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