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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in BMC Psychology

Volume 5, Issue 1, April 2017, Article number 14.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/s40359-017-0184-1. Copyright © Barker et al.


BACKGROUND: Approximately 3.8 million sport and recreational concussions occur per year, creating a need for accurate diagnosis and management of concussions. Researchers and clinicians are exploring the potential dose-response cumulative effects of concussive injuries using computerized neuropsychological exams, however, results have been mixed and/or contradictory. This study starts with a large adolescent population and applies strict inclusion criteria to examine how previous mild traumatic brain injuries affect symptom reports and neurocognitive performance on the Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) computerized tool.

METHODS: After applying exclusion criteria and case matching, 204 male and 99 female participants remained. These participants were grouped according to sex and the number of previous self-reported concussions and examined for overall differences on symptoms reported and scores obtained on the ImPACT neurocognitive battery composites. In an effort to further reduce confounding factors due to the varying group sizes, participants were then case matched on age, sex, and body mass index and analyzed for differences on symptoms reported and scores obtained on the ImPACT neurocognitive battery composites.

RESULTS: Case matched analysis demonstrated males with concussions experience significantly higher rates of dizziness (p = .027, η(2) = .035), fogginess (p = .038, η(2) = .032), memory problems (p = .003, η(2) = .055), and concentration problems (p = .009, η(2) = .046) than males with no reported previous concussions. No significant effects were found for females, although females reporting two concussions demonstrated a slight trend for experiencing higher numbers of symptoms than females reporting no previous concussions.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that male adolescent athletes reporting multiple concussions have lingering concussive symptoms well after the last concussive event; however, these symptoms were found to be conflicting and better explained by complainer versus complacent attitudes in the population examined. Our results conflict with a significant portion of the current literature that uses relatively lenient inclusion and exclusion criteria, providing evidence of the importance of strict inclusion and exclusion criteria and examination of confounding factors when assessing the effects of concussions.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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