Previous concussion history influences neurological assessments following an acute bout of purposeful heading in women’s collegiate soccer

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Abstract

Objective

Do differences in neurological assessments exists in a cohort of intercollegiate soccer players with varied concussion histories after an acute bout of soccer heading?

Design

Pre-posttest.

Setting

Soccer turf field and clinic.

Participants

67 female collegiate soccer athletes (age=19.1 ± 0.9 yr.; mass=60.5 ± 5.0 kg; height=165.3 ± 5.9 cm). Based on their concussion history subjects were assigned to either the control/simulated heading [G1-17], control/heading [G2-22] 1–2 previous concussion/heading [G3-19], and 3 or more concussion/heading [G4-9] groups.

Interventions

Concussion symptoms (SX), BESS errors, ImPACT NP test scores were derived prior to and immediately after a bout of heading (15 total headers/15 minutes @ 12 m/s). Subjects returned to the clinic for post-testing immediately after heading.

Outcome measures

SX, BESS and NP scores pre and post ROT and LIN heading.

Main results

G3 (3.9±4.4) and G4 (5.1±6.0) demonstrated higher SX pre-heading compared to G1 (1.9±2.4) and G2 (3.2±3.7). Excluding G1, all groups showed elevated SX post-heading. There was a significant (p=.05) time by group interaction for SX whereby SX in G4 (7.8±7.1; 95% CI=4.9 – 10.7) were significantly (p=0.03) higher post-heading than G1 (2.0±2.5; 95% CI=−0.02 – 4.2).

Conclusions

Subjects in G4 had elevated SX at baseline, and those SX appear to be greatly exaggerated immediately following an acute bout of heading. Clinicians should carefully monitor soccer players who have experienced multiple concussions and be cognizant that they may develop concussion-like symptoms, especially after acute bouts of heading. Limitations in soccer heading should also be considered for this group of soccer athletes.

Competing interests

None.

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