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Sports-related concussion in the high school athlete: An analysis of incidence rates, neuropsychological deficits, and recovery patterns

Anita H Sim, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The current body of sports-related concussion literature is hampered by the lack of research conducted on high school aged athletes. Accordingly, the present study sought to examine the incidence rates of concussion, neuropsychological deficits, and recovery pattern following concussive injuries in this population. Participants included 420 male and female athletes (mean age = 15.69) who underwent baseline testing of their neuropsychological functioning prior to their sports season. Fifteen participants sustained an in-season concussion and were serially reassessed at approximately 2.5, 6, and 10 days post-injury. Fifteen uninjured matched control participants were also reassessed at the end of the school year. Participants with a history of learning disability or ADHD demonstrated significantly poorer baseline neuropsychological performance than those with no such history. Similarly, a relationship between a previous history of concussion and poorer neuropsychological test performance at baseline was also evidenced. Individuals who sustained an in-season concussion demonstrated impairments in reaction time, processing speed, and delayed memory functioning. While reaction time and processing speed deficits returned to baseline levels by approximately 6 days, participants continued to show memory impairments up to 7 days post-injury. Memory impairments were found to resolve by day 10, however. The results of the present study suggest that a previous history of concussion may result in long term cognitive deficits and that a history of premorbid neurological variables, such as ADHD and learning disability, must be assessed in order to accurately evaluate the impact of a concussive injury and monitor an athlete's recovery. The obtained data also suggest that high school athletes demonstrate prolonged memory dysfunction compared to college athletes and should, therefore, be managed more conservatively. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy|Education, Physical|Health Sciences, Recreation|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Sim, Anita H, "Sports-related concussion in the high school athlete: An analysis of incidence rates, neuropsychological deficits, and recovery patterns" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3218334.