Background: College football players sustain an average of 3 subconcussive blows to the head per game. Concussions correlate with decreases in standardized neurocognitive test scores. It is not known whether repetitive, subconcussive microtrauma associated with participation in a full season of collision sport affects neurocognitive test scores.
Hypothesis: No difference exists between preseason, midseason, and postseason Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) scores when collegiate football players sustain subconcussive microtrauma from forceful, repetitive contact activity.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Fifty-eight members of a Division III collegiate football team who had no known concussion during the season voluntarily completed the SAC and ImPACT instruments preseason, midseason, and postseason. A repeated measures analysis of variance was used to compare the scores at the 3 time intervals (P < .05).
Results: No statistically significant decreases were found in overall SAC or ImPACT scores or in any of the domains or composites of the tests (P < .05) when preseason, midseason, and postseason scores were evaluated.
Conclusions: ImPACT and SAC neurocognitive test scores are not significantly altered by a season of repetitive contact in collegiate football athletes who have not sustained a concussion.
Clinical relevance: A diminution in SAC or ImPACT scores in concert with clinical symptoms and findings should be interpreted as evidence of a postconcussive event.