Neuropsychological functioning and recovery after mild head injury in collegiate athletes

Neurosurgery. 1996 Sep;39(3):510-4.


Objective: This study prospectively examined neuropsychological functioning in 2300 collegiate football players from 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division A universities. The study was designed to determine the presence and duration of neuropsychological symptoms after mild head injury.

Methods: A nonequivalent repeated measures control group design was used to compare the neuropsychological test scores and symptoms of injured players (n = 183) with those of gender, age, and education matched controls. A number of neuropsychological tests, including the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test, the Digit Symbol Test, and the Trail Making Test, as well as a symptom checklist were used.

Technique: Players and controls were assessed before engaging in game activity and 24 hours, 5 days, and 10 days after injury, using the standardized test battery and symptom checklist.

Results: Players with head injuries displayed impaired performance and increased symptoms in comparison to controls, but this impairment resolved within 5 days in most players. Players with head injuries showed significant improvement between 24 hours and 5 days, as well as between 5 and 10 days.

Conclusion: Although single, uncomplicated mild head injuries do cause limited neuropsychological impairment, injured players generally experience rapid resolution of symptoms with minimal prolonged sequelae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values
  • Time Factors