This exploratory study was designed to examine the neuropsychological effects of sports-related head trauma-specifically, repetitive subconcussive impacts or head blows that do not result in a diagnosable concussion. The researchers compared the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) neurocognitive test scores of 2 groups of nonconcussed youth athletes (n = 282), grouped according to the frequency of concussions in their respective sports, with the assumption that more subconcussive impacts occur in sports in which there are more reported concussions. The results indicated that high-contact-sport (football) athletes had significantly poorer performance in processing speed and reaction time compared with athletes in low-contact sports (wrestling, soccer, baseball, judo, and basketball). This study into the effects of repetitive subconcussive head trauma tentatively raises concern that participation in high-contact sports, even without evidence of a diagnosable concussion, could result in lowered neuropsychological functioning among high school athletes. Limitations of this exploratory research effort are discussed.
Appl Neuropsychol Child. 2016 Mar 15:1-7. [Epub ahead of print] Are There Subconcussive Neuropsychological Effects in Youth Sports? An Exploratory Study of High- and Low-Contact Sports. Tsushima WT1, Geling O2, Arnold M3, Oshiro R4. a Psychiatry and Psychology Department , Straub Clinic and Hospital , Honolulu , Hawaii. 2b PPE Solutions , Honolulu , Hawaii. 3c Syntactx , New York , New York. 4d Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine , Honolulu , Hawaii.