Prevalence of neurocognitive and balance deficits in collegiate aged football players without clinically diagnosed concussion

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther -


Mulligan, I., M. Boland and J. Payette.



STUDY DESIGN: Prospective cohort. OBJECTIVES: To identify the prevalence of neurocognitive and balance deficits in collegiate football players 48 hours following competition. BACKGROUND: Neurocognitive testing, balance assessments, and subjective report of symptoms are a commonly used test battery in examining athletes when concussion is suspected. Previous literature suggests many concussions go unreported. Little research exists examining the prevalence of neurocognitive or balance deficits in athletes who do not report concussion-like symptoms to a health care provider. METHODS: Forty-five Division IA collegiate football players participated in this study. Preseason baseline scores using the Balance Error Scoring System, the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, and the Postconcussion Symptom Scale were compared to posttest results obtained 48 hours following a game. Prevalence of symptoms was analyzed and reported. RESULTS: Thirty-two (71%) of the 45 athletes tested demonstrated at least 1 deficit in either the Postconcussion Symptom Scale, Balance Error Scoring System, or at least 1 composite score of the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. Nineteen of the 32 subjects demonstrated a change in 2 or more categories of neurocognitive and balance function. CONCLUSION: In a cohort of football players tested 48 hours following their last game of the season, who did not seek medical attention related to a concussion, a significant number demonstrated limitations in neurocognitive and balance performance, suggesting that further research may need to be performed to improve recognition of an athlete’s deficits and to improve the ability to assess concussion. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Differential diagnosis/symptom prevalence, level 3b.

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