Sports-related activities account for an estimated 10% of head and spinal cord injuries. In recent years, concussion in particular has garnered more interest in the medical field as well as the media. Reports of athletes suffering from long-term cognitive deficits and Parkinsonian symptoms have sparked concern in a disease process that has often been underestimated or ignored. As more reports surface, the desperate need for a better understanding of the neuropathology has been made clear. In addition to the concern for acute injury, long-term sequelae such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are feared consequences of concussive injuries. Research studies have shown significant overlap in the neuropathology between CTE and chronic neurodegenerative processes such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In particular, tau protein deposition has been found to be present in both disease processes and may play an important part in the clinical findings observed. The present review discusses concussion and our current understanding of pathological findings that may underlie the clinical features associated with concussive injuries and resulting chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Roya Saffary, Lawrence S. Chin, and Robert C. Cantu
John L. Woodard and Annalise A.M. Rahman
Recent progress in technology has allowed for the development and validation of computer-based adaptations of existing pencil-and-paper neuropsychological measures and comprehensive cognitive test batteries. These computer-based assessments are frequently implemented in the field of clinical sports psychology to evaluate athletes’ functioning postconcussion. These tests provide practical and psychometric advantages over their pencil-and-paper counterparts in this setting; however, these tests also provide clinicians with unique challenges absent in paper-and-pencil testing. The purpose of this article is to present advantages and disadvantages of computer-based testing, generally, as well as considerations for the use of computer-based assessments for the evaluation of concussion among athletes. Furthermore, the paper provides suggestions for further development of computerized assessment of sports concussion given the limitations of the current technology.
Michael Hutchison, Paul Comper, Lynda Mainwaring, and Doug Richards
The baseline / postconcussion neuropsychological (NP) assessment model has been shown to be of clinical value and currently contributes significant information in sport concussion evaluation. Computerized NP batteries are now widely used in elite sport environments and are rapidly becoming more commonly utilized at the community level. With the growth of computerized NP testing, it is important to identify and understand unique characteristics with respect to baseline NP performance. The Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) is a library of computerized NP tests designed to detect speed and accuracy of attention, memory, and thinking ability. This article describes baseline ANAM test scores in a sample of Canadian university athletes and explores the following two factors: (a) performance differences between male and female student-athletes using ANAM tests and (b) the relationship between self-reported history of concussion and baseline NP performance.
Lynda Mainwaring, Paul Comper, Michael Hutchison, and Doug Richards
Knowledge and awareness of sport concussion has been forwarded by research modeled on the neuropsychological testing paradigm associated with Barth’s “sport as laboratory” assessment model. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate lessons learned from that research. Key considerations for planning and implementing large-scale studies of concussion in sport while making adequate provision for the clinical needs of concussed athletes are reviewed. Toward that end, logistical, methodological, and ethical considerations are discussed within the context of research conducted in a university setting. Topics addressed include culture of sport and risk; research planning and design; communication with strategic partners; defining injury; choosing a test battery; data management, outcomes, and analyses; dissemination of results; and finally, clinical and ethical implications that may arise during the research enterprise. The paper concludes with a summary of the main lessons learned and directions for future research.
Christine M. Salinas and Frank M. Webbe
This paper aims to familiarize readers with the contemporary scientific literature available on sports concussion as it relates to populations divergent from adult males who play football and hockey. Herein, we focus on important issues such as age, gender, culture, language, sport type, and premorbid conditions (such as learning disabilities [LD] and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder [ADHD]) that can influence concussion incidence, severity, and recovery.
Ruben J. Echemendia
Sports-related concussions are ubiquitous in contact and collision sports at all levels of play and across a broad age range. Once thought to be a nuisance injury, it is now recognized that these brain injuries may lead to chronic neurocognitive impairment if not managed properly. This paper provides a broad overview of the research and clinical data that have emerged in this rapidly growing area. Included in the review are discussions of injury definition, pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, epidemiology, potential long-term consequences, assessment, and psychological factors. Issues of prevention and education are discussed in light of further increasing awareness of this injury.
Michael McCrea and Matthew R. Powell
This article reviews the essential components of a practical, evidenced-based approach to the management of sport-related concussion in an ambulatory care setting. The model presented is based on the core philosophy that concussion assessment and management be approached from the biopsychosocial perspective, which recognizes the medical/physiological, psychological, and sociological factors that influence recovery and outcome following concussion. Based on the biopsychosocial paradigm, we outline a care delivery model that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach in which the clinical neuropsychologist is a key participant. We discuss the importance of nonmedical, psychoeducational interventions introduced during the acute phase to facilitate recovery after sport-related concussion. Finally, using the local experience of our “Concussion Clinic” as a backdrop, we offer two separate case studies that demonstrate the value of this model in evaluating and managing athletes after sport-related concussion. The overall objective of this paper is to provide an adaptable template that neuropsychologists and other healthcare providers can use to improve the overall care of athletes with sport-related concussion and civilians with mild traumatic brain injury.
Lynda Mainwaring, Michael Hutchison, Paul Camper, and Doug Richards
Depression, fatigue, irritability, confusion, and general mood disturbance are frequently reported after cerebral concussion in sport. Recent trends in research point to the importance of examining postconcussive emotional disturbances more thoroughly, empirically, and clinically. An overview of the complexity of human emotion and its study is provided herein, followed by a review of emotional correlates identified in the existing sparse literature. The significance and clinical implications of identifying emotional correlates of concussion in sport and athletics are discussed.
Lynda Mainwaring and Max Trenerry
This current special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceived and developed to provide a resource for clinicians who have contact with athletes who are at risk for or have sustained a concussion during sport participation. The special issue is part of an exciting two-issue series. This first installment contains papers from leaders in the field of sport concussion who review the frequency and mechanisms of concussion, models for managing concussion, the emotional aspects of concussion in sport, practical examples from a model sport concussion clinic, and the importance of sport concussion education and prevention. As Guest Editors, we hope that this timely and unique special series will be used by clinicians who help care for athletes and their families who have experienced concussion in their sport life.
Paul Comper, Michael Hutchison, Doug Richards, and Lynda Mainwaring
Along with the ever growing awareness among the scientific community and the general public that concussion is a serious health care issue at all levels of sport, with potentially devastating long term health effects, the number of concussion surveillance clinical monitoring programs has significantly increased internationally over the past 10–15 years. An effective concussion program (a “best practice” model) is clinically prudent and evidence-based, one that is an interdisciplinary model involving health professionals who manage, educate, and provide psychosocial support to athletes. The integration of neuropsychological assessment is a component of many present day programs, and therefore, the neuropsychologist is an integral member of the concussion management team. The University of Toronto Concussion Program, operational since 1999, integrates best practices and current evidence into a working model of concussion management for university athletes. The model uses an interdisciplinary approach to monitor and assess athletes with concussions, as well as to educate its athletes, coaches, and administrators. A research component is also integral to the program.