12:19am Friday 13 December 2019

Concussions Impair Cognitive Performance in College Athletes

DENVER – The current focus on sports-related concussion has drawn attention to its effects on student-athletes. College-age athletes who suffered a concussion performed more poorly on tests for verbal memory, according to research being presented today at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®.

“This study corroborates the effect of concussion on brain functioning in student-athletes,” said Robert Gardner, lead researcher for this study and a student at Elon University in North Carolina. “In looking at 100 athletes from football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer, we found multiple signs of decreased cognitive processing.” Each participant received Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment Testing (ImPACTTM), as well as EEG testing while performing the Eriksen Flanker Task and an auditory oddball task.

Verbal memory was worse in those who had previously suffered a concussion compared with those who had not, according to Eric E. Hall, Ph.D., FACSM, principle investigator for the study. He said that these results, while not surprising, suggest the need for further research on the cognitive effects of concussion, particularly in the developing brains of children and adolescents.

More than 20 states have enacted laws since 2009 governing concussion in youth sports, focusing primarily on athletes of high school age and younger. Based on the Zackery Lystedt Law passed in Washington State, the laws typically call for education of athletes, parents and coaches about the dangers of concussion; removal from play or practice of a youth athlete who is suspected of having suffered a concussion; and return to play only after medical clearance.


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

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