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.