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The Relationship Between Coping, Neurocognitive Performance, and Concussion Symptoms in High School and Collegiate Athletes

Tracey Covassin, Bryan Crutcher, R.J. Elbin, Scott Burkhart, and Anthony Kontos

The present study explored the relationship of neurocognitive performance and symptoms to coping responses at 3 and 8 days postconcussion. A total of 104 concussed athletes (M = 16.41, SD = 2.19 years) completed the Immediate Post Concussion Assessment Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) at baseline and the ImPACT and Brief Cope inventory at 3 and 8 days postconcussion. Concussed athletes reported more frequent use of selfdistraction, behavioral disengagement, religion, and self-blame 3 days postconcussion compared with 8 days. Concussed athletes reported more use of avoidance coping at 3 days than 8 days (Wilks’s Lambda =.95, F [1, 100] =4.71, p = .032, η2=.046) post-injury. Total symptoms were also a significant (p = .001) predictor of avoidance coping 3 days postconcussion and decreased visual memory was associated with increased avoidance coping (p = .03) 8 days post-injury. Time since injury likely impacts neurocognitive performance, symptomology, and coping. Clinicians should be aware of higher reported symptoms early and lingering visual memory deficits 1-week post-injury.