Adolescent athletes with learning disability display atypical maturational trajectories on concussion baseline testing: Implications based on a Finnish sample

Child Neuropsychol -

[Epub ahead of print](21-May):1-16.

Peltonen, K., Vartiainen, M., Laitala-Leinonen, T., Koskinen, S., Luoto, T., Pertab, J. and Hokkanen, L..



Previous research has reported lower cognitive test scores on baseline testing in athletes reporting multiple previous concussions or a history of learning disability (LD). Age also has an important influence on cognitive performance. While these factors have been considered individually in previous studies, the present study is the first to explore the interaction of age, self-reported LD, and history of concussion on baseline Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) in a nationwide study of adolescent athletes. ImPACT was administered to 1823 Finnish male ice hockey players (aged 12-21 years old) prior to the 2015-2016 or 2016-2017 playing seasons. Linear regressions and simple slopes analyses were used for clarifying the impact of LD and previous concussion history on maturational trajectories. In comparison to typically developing athletes, athletes with LD had lower neurocognitive scores in all composites and differing maturational trajectory in verbal memory and visual motor speed. The number of previous concussions did not impair neurocognitive performance at baseline assessment. Application of standard age-based norms to adolescent athletes with a history of LD has the potential to negatively skew clinical decision-making. Separate reference values for LD athletes are warranted due to their unique developmental cognitive trajectories. The reference values for the Finnish participants in this study are presented.

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