Comparison of Neurocognitive Changes Over One Competitive Season in Adolescent Contact and Non-contact Athletes

Athletic Training and Sports Health Care. 2018 Jul;

[Epub ahead of print](26-Jun):.

Long, A. S., J. P. Niemeier, A. McWilliams, C. G. Patterson, P. Perrin, M. Templin and D. E. Price.

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Abstract:

PURPOSE: To compare neurocognitive function in contact and non-contact high school athletes at three points during a competitive season. METHODS: Fifty-two male high school athletes completed neurocognitive testing preseason, midseason, and postseason. Composite scores on neurocognitive measures of verbal memory, visual memory, visual motor speed, reaction time, and total symptom scores were measured. RESULTS: Contact athletes demonstrated a significant decrease (P = .006) preseason to postseason in verbal memory and a significant improvement (P = .023) in visual motor speed composite score. Among the contact group, participants who began participation in organized football before the age of 10 years had significantly lower average scores, comparatively and over time, than those who began after 10 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that specific neurocognitive variables significantly vary over a competitive season, but only decline in contact athletes.

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