Effects of Repetitive Head Impacts on a Concussion Assessment Battery

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PurposeThe purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between repetitive head impacts (RHI) and clinical concussion assessments across a season among collegiate football (FB) and women’s soccer (WSOC) players.MethodsFifteen male FB and 23 WSOC players participated in this study. Participants were included if they were medically cleared for unrestricted athletic participation. Participants were tested in a university athletic training room on two occasions: preseason (PRE) and postseason (POST). The outcome measures consisted of tandem gait (TG), Standardized Assessment of Concussion, Balance Error Scoring System, King-Devick (KD), clinical reaction time, and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. Repetitive head impact during the season was quantified using the Head Impact Telemetry System (Simbex, NH) for FB and the Smart Impact Monitor (SIM; Triax Technologies, Norwalk, CT) for WSOC. Independent variables included total number of impacts, average magnitude of peak linear acceleration, cumulative linear exposure, and number of impacts ≥98g.ResultsResults from direct-entry multiple regression analyses suggest significant associations between RHI and both visual memory (R2 = 0.670, F = 6.487, P = 0.002) and TG (R2 = 0.636, F = 3.841, P = 0.029) for WSOC and between RHI and KD (R2 = 0.756, F = 5.579, P = 0.013) for FB, whereby those with greater exposure performed worse. No other regression analyses within or across groups were significant.ConclusionsThese data suggest that RHI do not represent clinically meaningful changes on a multifaceted and multimodal concussion assessment battery. However, there may be subtle visual/vestibular impairments as observed by the associations between RHI and visual memory/TG among WSOC, RHI, and KD among FB.

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