Factors that influence sports-related concussion measures in contact, non-contact sports and non-athletes.



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The purpose of this two-study dissertation was to determine how concussion history, career status, cumulative years of football exposure (study one), and activity status (study two) affect performance on sports-related concussion measures in healthy, elite athletes and non-athletes. Elite, American football players (study one), and elite athletes from all sports and non-athletes (study two), between the ages of 18-45 were invited to voluntarily participate. Individuals were excluded if they had a diagnosed concussion within the past 30 days, if they were currently experiencing symptoms preventing return to play/sport or if they were pregnant. Both studies followed a cross-sectional design. Each participant underwent a single session where demographic data, as well as data from a symptom evaluation, neurocognitive testing, and balance testing (study 1) and additional data from the Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening tool (VOMS) and dual-task tandem gait (DT TG) testing (study two), were collected. Data was analyzed utilizing regression modeling, alpha was set to .05, a priori. Results revealed symptom reports from the symptom evaluation and the VOMS were affected by concussion history, activity status, age, and career status. Balance was affected by both concussion history and age. Neurocognitive performance and DT TG were measures not significantly impacted by the outlined factors: concussion history, career status, cumulative years of football exposure, and activity status. Additionally, cumulative years of football exposure was not a significant factor. Therefore, clinicians should take concussion history, career status, and activity status into consideration when analyzing symptom reports and balance scores, for all patient examinations regardless of their referral diagnosis, secondary to the long-term implications of these factors. Although our studies did not reach the point of significance with contact sports influencing neurocognitive performance and DT performance, we believe further research is needed to explore these relationships to better understand long-term implications associated with concussive and sub-concussive exposure. Thus, a longitudinal study is recommended to explore the long-term effects of contact sports and their effect on neurocognition, balance, and DT TG. Our studies provide foundations for future studies by identifying factors that influence common sports-related concussion measures.



Concussion, Assessment, Symptoms, Neurocognition, Balance, Vestibular, Ocular motor, Dual-task, Football, Contact athletes, Non-contact athletes, Non-athletes