Concussion and concurrent cognitive and sport-specific task performance in youth ice hockey players: a pilot study

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the influence of concussion on cognitive performance while completing concurrent sport-specific tasks to further inform return to play protocols for youth athletes.

Design

This descriptive case pilot study compared the performance of youth ice hockey players who had experienced a concussion in the last ice hockey season to non-injured controls.

Setting

Youth athletes were assessed while performing ice hockey skills in an ice hockey arena.

Participants

Four male youth ice hockey players who experienced a concussion during the previous ice hockey season (mean age=11.7±0.29 years; mean time since injury=92.5±49.0 days) and nine non-injured control subjects (mean age=11.4±1.0 years).

Intervention

Participants completed a randomised combination of four tasks (unobstructed skating, visual interference task, avoiding a fixed obstacle, stickhandling an ice hockey puck).

Outcome Measures

Response errors and response reaction time dual-task costs during visual interference task (modified Stroop task).

Results

Participants who experienced a concussion within the past ice hockey season and were ≤58 days post-injury demonstrated significantly poorer cognitive performance (increased dual task cost) across all conditions when performing concurrent sport-specific skills (based on 95% CI).

Conclusions

Youth ice hockey players with a more recent concussion demonstrated greater cognitive deficits compared to controls. This study acts as an initial step towards the development of an ecologically valid, sport-specific assessment of functional performance following concussion in youth ice hockey players.

Acknowledgements

Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Quebec Rehabilitation Research Network (ONF-REPAR).

Competing interests

None.

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