Concussion History and Cognitive Function in a Large Cohort of Adolescent Athletes

Am J Sports Med -

[Epub ahead of print](19-Sep):.

Taylor, K. M., Kioumourtzoglou, M. A., Clover, J., Coull, B. A., Dennerlein, J. T., Bellinger, D. C. and Weisskopf, M. G..



BACKGROUND: The incidence of reported concussions in the adolescent population is increasing, yet research on the effects of concussions in this population is minimal and inconclusive. PURPOSE: To assess the association between concussion and performance on a cognitive test battery. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS: Using multivariate models, the authors assessed the association between concussion and performance on a cognitive test battery among 5616 high school and junior high school athletes. The researchers utilized a global cognitive score and scores for 5 domains: verbal memory, visual memory, visual motor, reaction time, and impulse control. Each cognitive score was converted to a z score with the mean and SD of the nonconcussed population. Results from each model were then interpreted as change in the standardized unit score. In the models, concussion was evaluated as ever having a concussion, number of concussions, time since last concussion, and age at first concussion. RESULTS: Ever having a concussion was associated with a mean decrease of 0.11 standardized units (95% CI, -0.20 to -0.01) on the global cognitive score and lower scores in all cognitive domains. Each additional concussion was associated with lower scores on global cognitive function (effect estimate, -0.06; 95% CI, -0.11 to -0.02), verbal memory, visual memory, and impulse control. Concussion in early childhood was associated with lower global cognition (effect estimate, -0.05; 95% CI, -0.08 to -0.01), visual memory, and motor visual scores as compared with concussions in later childhood. The associations between time since last concussion and cognitive test scores were nonlinear, and on all tests, lower scores were observed even >/=1 year after the concussion. CONCLUSION: On the basis of objective performance metrics for cognitive function, concussions had a more persistent effect on cognitive function than previously thought. The age at which an individual has his or her first concussion may be an important factor in determining long-lasting cognitive effects.

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