Effects of a history of headache and migraine treatment on baseline neurocognitive function in young athletes

J Headache Pain. 2022 Jul;


McCarthy, L., Hannah, T. C., Li, A. Y., Schupper, A. J., Hrabarchuk, E., Kalagara, R., . . . Choudhri, T. F..



OBJECTIVE/BACKGROUND: Despite the prevalence of concussions in young athletes, the impact of headaches on neurocognitive function at baseline is poorly understood. We analyze the effects of a history of headache treatment on baseline ImPACT composite scores in young athletes. METHODS: A total of 11,563 baseline ImPACT tests taken by 7,453 student-athletes ages 12-22 between 2009 and 2019 were reviewed. The first baseline test was included. There were 960 subjects who reported a history of treatment for headache and/or migraine (HA) and 5,715 controls (CT). The HA cohort included all subjects who self-reported a history of treatment for migraine or other type of headache on the standardized questionnaire. Chi-squared tests were used to compare demographic differences. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were used to assess differences in baseline composite scores between cohorts while controlling for demographic differences and symptom burden. RESULTS: Unadjusted analyses demonstrated that HA was associated with increased symptoms (beta=2.30, 95% CI: 2.18-2.41, p<.0001), decreased visual memory (beta=-1.35, 95% CI: -2.62 to -0.43, p=.004), and increased visual motor speed (beta=0.71, 95% CI: 0.23-1.19, p=.004) composite scores. Baseline scores for verbal memory, reaction time, and impulse control were not significantly different between cohorts. Adjusted analyses demonstrated similar results with HA patients having greater symptom burden (beta=1.40, 95% CI: 1.10-1.70, p<.0001), lower visual memory (beta=-1.25, 95% CI: -2.22 to -0.27, p=.01), and enhanced visual motor speed (beta=0.60, 95% CI: 0.11-1.10, p=.02) scores. CONCLUSION: HA affected symptom, visual motor speed, and visual memory ImPACT composite scores. Visual memory scores and symptom burden were significantly worse in the HA group while visual motor speed scores were better, which may have been due to higher stimulant use in the HA group. The effects of HA on visual motor speed and visual memory scores were independent of the effects of the increased symptom burden.

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