Sustained head impacts and neurocognitive performance in youth ice hockey players

British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2009 May;

43(Suppl 1):i95.

Reed, N. P., M. L. Keightley, J. McAuliffe, T. Taha, B. Faught, M. McPherson and W. Montelpare.

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Abstract:

Objective: To explore the relationship between sustained head impacts and neurocognitive performance in bantam-aged (13– 14 years) youth ice hockey players. Design: Prospective, descriptive, correlational design. Setting: Subjects were recruited from the Greater Toronto Hockey League in Ontario, Canada, with support from the Ontario Hockey Federation. Subjects: 13 male bantam (13–14 years) competitive ice hockey players. Methods: Sustained head impact and neurocognitive function data were collected from 13 players of the participating bantam-aged boys ice hockey team using telemetric accelerometers implanted within the players’ helmets and a series of neurocognitive and postconcussion measures. Sustained head impact data were collected at 27 ice hockey games throughout the 2006–7 season. Neurocognitive performance was measured using two computer-based neuropsychological testing measures (ImPACT and CCPT-II) at pre-season, mid-season and post-season testing sessions. Results: Descriptive characteristics of sustained head impacts and neurocognitive function were generated for each player. 2989 head impacts were recorded over 27 ice hockey games for 13 players (M = 209.9 ¡ 100.5). The mean linear acceleration of sustained head impacts was 15.8 ¡ 1.8 g. No significant differences in neurocognitive performance were found over time. Significant main effects for previous concussion were found during neurocognitive tasks involving verbal memory (F(1, 7) = 12.5, p = 0.003) and reaction time (F(1, 7) = 6.1, p = 0.026). Findings suggest relationships between specific neurocognitive domains and the number and magnitude of head impacts sustained at corresponding time intervals throughout the ice hockey season. Conclusion: This study acts as an initial step towards a greater understanding of the characteristics of sustained head impacts and neurocognitive function specific to the youth ice hockey player population.

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