Return to play following sports-related mild traumatic brain injury: the role for neuropsychology

Appl Neuropsychol. 2003;10(1):48-55. doi: 10.1207/S15324826AN1001_7.


Cerebral concussions frequently occur at all levels of athletic competition. The effects from these concussions can be transient or may lead to chronic, debilitating symptoms. A growing literature has established that neuropsychological tests are useful in detecting the subtle neurocognitive changes that occur following concussions. The identification of these deficits and subsequent recovery of function can be important components in making return-to-play (RTP) decisions. This article describes the emergence of neuropsychology in sports medicine, discusses the context in which RTP decisions are made, outlines factors that are important to RTP decisions, and presents a model that views the RTP decision as a dynamic risk-benefit analysis that involves complex interactions among variables. It is argued that neuropsychology has a unique, but not exclusive, role in the decision making process. Implications for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports Medicine / methods*
  • Sports Medicine / standards