Effects of visual symptoms on computerized cognitive assessment of concussed athletes

Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 2005 Oct;


Tinker, J., C. Kaminaris, J. Schneider and E. Zillmer.



Objective: To compare the cognitive profiles of concussed athletes reporting visual symptoms with those reporting no visual symptoms on a computerized concussion assessment tool. Given the inherent visual demands of computerized cognitive assessment, it is hypothesized that individuals reporting visual symptoms post-concussively will demonstrate greater cognitive declines relative to baseline on computerized assessment. Method: Participants were 27 collegiate varsity and club athletes who sustained a concussion during the 2002–2003 season. The mean age of participants was 19.8 years (range 18–23 years) and 52% were male. Athletes were assessed using the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) computerized assessment program at baseline (prior to initiation of season) and within 48 h of concussive incident. The ImPACT’s composite scores for Verbal Memory, Visual Memory, Processing Speed, and Reaction Time were examined. Results: A mixed between–within MANOVA revealed a decline in cognitive performance between baseline and post-concussion testing, F(1, 24) = 4.77, P = .005, and an interaction between assessment time and visual problem report, F(1, 24) = 2.48, P = .02. Post hoc univariate analyses revealed differences in Visual Memory, Processing Speed, and Reaction Time composites. Conclusion: The results support the well-documented concept that athletes experience declines in cognitive test performance post-concussively. Importantly however, results also support the contention that those reporting visual symptoms demonstrate greater degrees of decline within discrete cognitive domains on computerized assessment.

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