Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Education

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Elbin, R.J.

Reader

Gray, Michelle

Second Reader

Washington, Tyrone

Abstract

The current return-to-play (RTP) protocol in place for an athlete recovering from a concussion is based on the subjective measure of self-report rather than more objective tools such as computerized neurocognitive testing. Because of this, it is possible that athletes downplay or lie about symptoms they are experiencing in order to expedite the RTP process. The purpose of the current study was to examine the frequency of post-exertional neurocognitive test failure in a sample of high school athletes recovering from concussion that underwent a standardized exertional RTP protocol. This research project used a de-identified medical records review of neurocognitive data prospectively gathered from a sample of high school athletes with concussion that sought medical care at a large sport concussion clinic located in the southeastern United States. Thirty-nine athletes met inclusion criteria and participated in this study. Upon returning to baseline levels of neurocognitive performance at rest, athletes completed the standardized RTP protocol while reporting to be symptom-free, but 28% (11/39) showed cognitive deficits following this physical exertion. The findings from this study demonstrated that one-third of concussed athletes that successfully complete the RTP process (i.e., symptom-free) present with neurocognitive deficits. In order to protect these athletes, it is important that clinicians utilize objective CNT to complement symptom reports for determining RTP.

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