The issue pertaining to the effect of multiple self-reported sports-related concussions on cognitive function is controversial. Although this topic has received increased attention in the literature recently, the issue remains unresolved. Evidence supporting a detrimental cognitive effect has been reported at a sub-concussive level and following one, two, and three or more previous concussions. However, numerous studies have been unable to replicate these findings. Additionally, discrepancies between neuropsychological testing formats have been identified, where studies utilizing traditional tests tend to support the notion of detrimental cognitive effects whereas studies with computerized tests have tended to demonstrate no effect. The present study sought to examine possible detrimental cognitive effects in a sample of adult male rugby union players who reported a history of three or more concussions (n=34) compared with those who reported no previous concussions (n=39). A computerized neuropsychological battery and a traditional neuropsychological measure of processing speed were administered for this purpose. Findings revealed that there were differences between groups on two processing speed measures from both traditional and computerized tests. Athletes with a history of multiple concussions performed significantly lower on these measures than those with no history of concussion. These results provide further evidence to suggest that a history of three or more self-reported concussions in active athletes may have a detrimental effect on cognitive function. Future research may focus on identifying moderating factors in an attempt to resolve some of the conflicting findings and identify potential athletes at risk for sustaining cognitive deficits.
- sports-related concussion
- computerized neuropsychological tests