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766-780-Sports Medicine/Arthroscopy VII
Friday, Mar 14, 2014, 4:12 PM - 4:18 PM
Relationship between Years of Participation and Neurocognitive Function among Adolescent Football Athletes
+Head (Sports Med/Arthro)
Gregory W. Stewart
, MD, New Orleans, Louisiana
, PhD, New Orleans, Louisiana
, Metairie, Louisiana
Hagar T. Elgendy
, BS, MS, New Orleans, Louisiana
, PhD, Laplace, Louisiana
Felix H. Savoie III
, MD, New Orleans, Louisiana
INTRODUCTION: Head impacts, both concussive and sub-concussive, are common among high school football athletes. Research that examines the biomechanics and functional effects of sub-concussive impacts is at its infancy. Often, medical management and clinical research of the athlete with head impacts are often convoluted by failure of the athlete to report their head injury to an authority figure. It is essential to identify the effects of exposure to sub-concussive impacts on an adolescent athlete’s susceptibility to chronic injury to guide clinical management of athletes. This study tested for correlations between years of participation in football and digit symbol substitution (DSS), pure reaction time (PRT), choice reaction time (CRT), age and concussion history.
METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of prospectively acquired data from the pre-participation health screenings that were conducted among adolescent football athletes in southeast Louisiana. Performance on neuropsychological tasks (digit substitution, pure reaction time and choice reaction time), years of football participation, age and concussion history of 1,289 of anonymized subjects were obtained from a previously established database of sport related brain injuries between August 1998 and August 2001. Fifty-nine subjects were excluded because of missing demographic data. Correlations between years of football participation, DSS, PRT, CRT, age and concussion history were examined using Spearman rank correlation. A
value of < 0.01 was considered significant.
RESULTS: A total of 1,662 observations were recorded across the four years among young men of a mean age of 15.9 years (SD 1.2) participating on football teams for a mean duration of 4.4 years (SD 3.1). The race of 71.59% of the sample was Black, 26.3% were Caucasian, 1.41% were Hispanic and 0.71% were other. Only 4% of the sample suffered a sport concussion. Age was significantly positively related to performance on the DSS task (
< 0.0001) but years of football remained significantly and positively associated with DSS after controlling for age (
< 0.0001). There was no association between history of concussion and DSS despite adding concussion to the model with years of football participation (
<0.0001). There was no significant association between years of football participation and PRT (
= 0.07) or CRT (
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The correlation between the number of years of football participation and the performance on the digit symbol substitution does not support the hypothesis that participation in collision sport negatively affects neurocognitive function. These data have important implications for athletes and medical evaluations of the functional risks associated with collision sport participation. Future longitudinal investigation into the relationship between additional measures of neurocognitive function and demographic variables among athletes that participate in collision sports may alter a clinical approach to the assessment and treatment of this patient population.
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