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Comparison of neuropsychological test scores of high school athletes in high and low contact sports: A replication study

Appl Neuropsychol Child. 2018 Jan;

7(1):14-20.

Tsushima, W. T. S., A. M.; Yamashita, N.; Oshiro, R. S.; Murata, N. M..

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Abstract:

This replication study re-examined the neuropsychological effects of participation in high and low contact youth sports. Modeled after a recently published investigation, two contact sport groups of participants ages 12 to 18 were formed based on the rate of concussion in their respective sport, with the assumption that more head impacts and neuropsychological effects occur in high contact sports that have a greater number of reported concussions as compared with low contact sports. The preseason baseline ImPACT neuropsychological test scores and symptom scores of non-concussed youth athletes in a High Contact Sport (football, n = 139) and a Low Contact Sport (basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, paddling, and cheerleading, n = 57) were compared. The results revealed significantly poorer ImPACT test performances in visual motor speed and reaction time among high contact sport athletes compared to low contact sport athletes. No differences were found between the two groups in Verbal Memory, Visual Memory, and Total Symptom. These findings were identical to a recent study in which nonconcussed youth athletes in a high contact sport, that is, football, exhibited poorer neuropsychological test performance than their peers in low contact sports, that is, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, and judo. This research replication verified the results of the prior study, and raises concerns that youth athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma may be at risk for lowered neuropsychological functioning, even without a reported concussive event.

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