Objective: Although research is accumulating on the cognitive sequelae from sports-related concussions in men, little to nothing is known about the prolonged cognitive outcome after a concussion in women. This point is important because recent evidence suggests that female athletes are at greater risk of sustaining a concussion.
Design: We assessed cognitive functioning after a first concussion in female soccer players, 6 to 8 months after their injury. The first-time concussed athletes were compared with a group of age-matched teammates who had never experienced a concussion.
Setting and participants: A total of 22 female university-level soccer players participated in the study.
Main outcome measurements: Paper-and-pencil and computerized tasks were used to assess different neuropsychological functions.
Results: Short- and long-term verbal memory, attention, and simple reaction time were normal. In contrast, compared with the control group, the concussed athletes were significantly slower on tasks that required decision making (complex reaction time), inhibition and flexibility (Stroop), and planning (Tour of London task).
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that cognitive functions related to cognitive processing speed are most vulnerable to a sports-related concussion and are still impaired for a half year after injury in university-level female soccer players.