Submission Date

7-22-2015

Document Type

Paper

Department

Neuroscience

Faculty Mentor

Joel Bish

Comments

Presented during the 17th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2015 at Ursinus College.

Supported by a collaborative research grant from Lockheed Martin.

Project Description

Concussions are classified as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). An individual that has sustained a concussion will experience symptoms such as nausea, possible memory loss, blurry vision, or loss of balance. Most symptoms subside within a few days, but a large pool of research raises concern for the recovery of executive function, specifically impulse control. Executive function relates to all tasks that require deliberate attention. Past research has shown adolescents record the highest number of sports concussions when compared to collegiate and professional athletes. The frontal lobe, which controls executive function, is not fully developed during the time of adolescence. Injured players of this developmental stage typically experience a prolonged recovery period. This study performed a battery of cognitive tests, well-recognized as effective means of testing impulse control, on both concussed and non-concussed athletes. A permanent marker of concussion was identified at 6 months post-injury. Participants with a history of concussion demonstrated impulse control and attention issues. Such behavior is characteristic of individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. The evaluation of executive function prior to return to play can be useful for the prevention and treatment of long-term consequences.

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