Comprehensive Headache Experience in Collegiate Student-Athletes: An Initial Report From the NCAA Headache Task Force

Tad Seifert, Alicia Sufrinko, Robert Cowan, W. Scott Black, Dave Watson, Bill Edwards, Scott Livingston, Keith Webster, David Akers, Mathew Lively, Anthony P. Kontos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The prevalence of primary headache disorders in the general population provides a unique challenge in the evaluation of headache occurring in the context of sport. Despite a wealth of studies exploring the epidemiology of headache in the layperson, little is known about the prevalence and nature of headaches in collegiate student-athletes. These scenarios are challenging in the return to play context, as it is often unclear whether an athlete has an exacerbation of a primary headache disorder, new onset headache unrelated to trauma, or has suffered a concussive injury. Purpose: To establish the prevalence and nature of headaches in collegiate student-athletes. Study Design: Retrospective cross-sectional survey. Methods: This cross-sectional survey evaluated the characteristics and prevalence of headache in 834 student-athletes from four NCAA Division-I institutions. Because headache occurrence may vary by sport (collision, contact, non-contact), by sex, and medical history, our sample included male and female athletes in a variety of sports, with differing degrees of contact exposure. The 20 question survey collected data on personal and family history of headache, as well as concussion history. Results: A total of 23.7% (n = 198) of participants reported having a personal history of migraine, 25.2% (n = 210) history of sinus headache, and 12.3% (n = 103) history of tension type headache. Among athletes with a prior history of concussion, 46.3% (n = 25) of females reported a history of migraine, while only 32.2% of males reported history of migraine (χ2 = 3.421, P =.064). Conclusions: The etiology of increased prevalence of migraine in our study is unclear. Whether this is due to increased awareness of headache disorders, a consequence of contact exposure, or a predisposition for migraine development in this age group remains unclear. Further studies are indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-886
Number of pages10
JournalHeadache
Volume57
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Headache Society

Keywords

  • NCAA
  • college
  • concussion
  • headache
  • migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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