College football players who sustain multiple concussions are at risk for a decline in long-term neuropsychological function. And players with a pre-existing learning disability (LD) who have sustained multiple concussions appear to have an even higher risk of permanent injury, according to an article in the Sept. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The study is the first of its kind to determine long-term effects of concussions on athletes' neuropsychological activity, which for example includes memory, problem solving, speed of information processing and fine motor speed.
"The chance that a college football player has had a concussion playing football, either before or during college is very high about one in three," according to the study's lead author Michael Collins, Ph.D., from the Division of Neuropsychology at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit. "Our study revealed that more than two-thirds of quarterbacks and tightends had experienced at least one concussion, while one-third of running backs/fullbacks had a history of concussion."
Dr. Collins and colleagues studied 393 male college football players from four Division IA programs: Michigan State University, University of Florida, University of Pittsburgh and University of Utah. Prior to the 1997/98 and 1998/99 seasons, athletes were interviewed about their medical history and were administered a 30-minute battery of written and verbal neuropsychological tests to establish baseline readings.
When an athlete sustained a concussion during the football season, he was again given the neuropsychological tests. Post-concussion analysis showed: