Recovery from Concussion in the Competitive Skier

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2008 Feb;


Weiss, E. S. and M. R. Lovell.



Objective: Downhill skiing is potentially a very dangerous sport which frequently results in mild traumatic brain injury. As in other high-risk sports, such as football, skiers often sustain differing degrees of head injuries. ImPACT, a computerized neurocognitive test battery that also contains a Post Concussion Symptom Scale evaluation (PCSS), has proven to be both a valid and reliable method of evaluating neurocognitive dysfunction of concussed athletes and has become a valuable tool in aiding neuropsychologists in making return-to-play advisements. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the post injury performance of skiers on ImPACT following sport-related concussion. Participants and Methods: ImPACT was administered to 10 competitive U.S. skiers who had sustained concussions during competition or training, 5 of whom had baseline, pre-injry ImPACT data, and 6 of whom took ImPACT at time 2 (50% were male, and 50% were female). The mean age of the athletes was 20.7. Mean follow up 1 time was 4.5 days, and mean follow up time 2 was 13.7 days. Results: ImPACT performance on neurocognitive subsections including visual memory, verbal memory, and reaction time showed a trend of decrease from baseline to time 1, and then of increase at time 2 after partial recovery. These results correlated with the subjects’ report of symptoms on PCSS. Conclusions: This data demonstrates the value of administering ImPACT to injured skiers. Immediately after sustaining a concussion, these athletes clearly experienced deficits in neurocognitive functioning, which correlated with the physical effects they were suffering from the injury. It is our belief that ImPACT is a vital aid to ski trainers in managing head injuries.

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