Skip to content

    Brain & Nervous System Health Center

    Font Size

    Test Evaluates Teen Athletes With Concussions

    Neuropsychological Testing Keeps Athletes With Concussions on Sidelines Longer
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Dec. 30, 2010 -- High school athletes who undergo computerized neuropsychological testing of their brain function after suffering a concussion are more likely to be sidelined than other injured players, a new study shows.

    Researchers say that when computerized neuropsychological testing is used, athletes with concussions are less likely than other injured players to be returned to competition within a week of their injury.

    The study is published in the December 2010 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

    Spotting Brain Damage

    Computerized neuropsychological testing involves a battery of cognitive tests designed to objectively assess brain function after head trauma.

    Such tests often are performed on athletes before playing seasons start to establish a baseline measure of their responses to questions, which then can be used for comparison purposes after a head injury such as a concussion.

    Researchers say football players with concussions are less likely to undergo computerized neuropsychological testing than are participants in other sports.

    Data on Sports Concussions

    Using a database of 544 concussions among high school athletes from 2008-2009, researchers reported that:

    • 76% were caused by contact with another player, usually a head-to-head collision.
    • 93.4% had headaches, and 4.6% unconsciousness.
    • 83.4% of injured players' symptoms cleared up within a week, but it took more than a month for 1.5%.

    Of all concussions evaluated, only 27.5% of athletes underwent computerized neurological testing. But they also were found to be less likely to return to action within a week, compared to athletes who weren’t assessed with computerized neuropsychological testing.

    “Although it is now recognized as one of ‘the cornerstones of concussion evaluation, routine neuropsychological testing in the setting of sports-related concussion is a relatively new concept,” the researchers write.

    They say their study is the first “to query the use of computerized neuropsychological testing in high school athletes using a large, nationally representative sample.”

    The study also found that:

    • 51.7% of injuries were recorded in varsity players vs. 30.1% in junior varsity players.
    • 68.5% of injuries occurred during competition, rather than in practice.
    • In 89.5% of cases, the diagnosed concussion was the athlete’s first.
    • 28% of the concussions occurred in 16-year-olds.

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    senior woman with lost expression
    Know the early warning signs.
    woman in art gallery
    Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
    medical marijuana plant
    What is it used for?
    woman embracing dog
    boy hits soccer ball with head
    red and white swirl
    marijuana plant
    brain illustration stroke
    nerve damage
    Alzheimers Overview
    Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix