Prolonged recovery of memory functioning after mild traumatic brain injury in adolescent athletes

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  • 1 Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln;
  • 3 University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska; and
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia
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Object

The current body of sports-related concussion literature is hampered by a lack of research conducted in high school athletes. Accordingly, the authors sought to examine the neuropsychological deficits and recovery patterns after concussive injuries in this population.

Methods

Participants included 419 male and female athletes with a mean age of 15.69 years who underwent baseline testing of their neuropsychological functioning prior to their sports season. Fourteen participants sustained an in-season concussion and were serially reassessed at ~ 2.5, 6, and 10 days postinjury. Fourteen uninjured matched control participants were also reassessed at the end of the school year.

Results

Individuals who sustained in-season concussions demonstrated impairments in reaction time, processing speed, and had delayed memory functioning. Although reaction time and processing speed deficits returned to baseline levels by ~ 6 days postinjury, participants continued to show memory impairments up to 7 days postinjury. Memory impairments were found to resolve by Day 10, however.

Conclusions

The results of the present study suggest that high school athletes demonstrate prolonged memory dysfunction compared with college athletes, and should therefore be treated more conservatively.

Abbreviations used in this paper: ANAM = Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics; LOC = loss of consciousness; mTBI = mild traumatic brain injury; SD = standard deviation; SRT = simple reaction time.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Anita Sim, Ph.D., University of Virginia Health System, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, P.O. Box 800203, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908. email: anitasim1@gmail.com.
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