Sport concussion and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in student athletes: A cohort study

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Abstract

Background

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with impulsive behavior and inattention, making it a potential risk factor for sport-related concussion (SRC). The objectives of this study were to determine whether ADHD is an antecedent risk factor for SRC and whether ADHD complicates recovery from SRC in youth athletes.

Methods

Student athletes with a history of SRC were evaluated for the presence of ADHD using diagnostic interview and to determine whether ADHD symptoms began before or after SRC. Concussion-specific measures of concussive symptoms and cognitive function were compared in SRC + ADHD and SRC + No ADHD groups to assess SRC recovery between groups.

Results

ADHD was overrepresented in youth with SRC compared with population rates. ADHD was found to be an antecedent risk factor for SRC, with age at ADHD onset earlier than the date of SRC. Student athletes with SRC and ADHD reported more concussive symptoms compared with athletes without ADHD and were more likely to have a history of greater than one concussion.

Conclusions

The results of this study support our hypothesis that ADHD is an antecedent risk factor for SRC and may contribute to a more complicated course of recovery from SRC. Future research should focus on determining whether screening, diagnosis, and treating ADHD in youth athletes may prevent SRC. Providers that care for youth athletes with ADHD should be aware of the vulnerabilities of this population toward SRC and its complications.

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