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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lynda M. Mainwaring, Sean M. Bisschop, Robin E.A. Green, Mark Antoniazzi, Paul Comper, Vicki Kristman, Christine Provvidenza and Doug W. Richards

Despite suggestions that emotions influence recovery from injury, there is little research into the emotional sequelae of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), or “concussion,” in sport. This examination compares emotional functioning of college athletes with MTBI to that of uninjured teammates and undergraduates. A short version of the Profile of Mood States (POMS; Grove & Prapavessis, 1992) assessed baseline emotions in all groups, and serial emotional functioning in the MTBI and undergraduate groups. Whereas preinjury profiles were similar across groups, the MTBI group showed a significant postinjury spike in depression, confusion, and total mood disturbance that was not seen for the other groups. The elevated mood disturbances subsided within 3 weeks postinjury. Given that concussed athletes were highly motivated to return to play, these data could be used as a benchmark of normal emotional recovery from MTBI. Findings are discussed in relation to current literature on emotional reaction to injury and directions for future research.