Masters Thesis

Effects of concussion history on neurocognitive performance in high school and collegiate athletes after an athletic season

Potential long term neurocognitive (NC) and psychological effects from exposure to concussive and subconcussive forces are of growing international concern. Athletes with a history of prior concussions exhibit lower objective performances and higher symptom reporting when compared to those with fewer injuries. Due to this observation, researchers have hypothesized a dose-response relationship between concussion history and decrements in NC function. For this study, we hypothesized an association between a history of multiple concussions and NC deficits in current soccer and football participants. Those with three or more concussions were predicted to perform worse than those with no prior injuries before an athletic season and experience NC decrements after a season. Athletes (n=101) from 5 high schools and one NCAA Division II university in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties were administered a computerized neurocognitive test with related demographics (ImPACT) and asked to self-report symptoms (PCSS) immediately before and after a competitive athletic season, and were administered an additional survey related to concussion history postseason. A FOUR (concussion history-0, 1, 2, 3 or more) X TWO (time- preseason, postseason) MANOVA was used to analyze ImPACT composite and PCSS scores between the concussion groups and between preseason vs. postseason. Athletes with three or more concussions (n=13) did not obtain lower preseason (baseline) scores than athletes without a history of concussion (n=53) and there were no significant changes from preseason to postseason composite scores across any concussion group. While findings from this study did not show significant changes in NC scores after a single competitive soccer or football season, there were observed trends that shed light on the importance of comprehensive large scale longitudinal studies.