Cognitive Performance in Collegiate Athletes at Risk for Sub-Acute Blows to the Head
Sub-acute blows to the head are hits that do not result in the immediate presentation of injury symptoms. However, these blows may pose a greater risk than initially anticipated if repeated, sub-acute brain trauma collectively predicts declines in cognitive performance. Collegiate athletes who play specific positions within their sport are especially at risk of sub-acute blows to the head, which makes them an important population to monitor when determining if there are negative effects of sub-acute blows on cognition and brain health. Electroencephalogram (EEG) data from collegiate athletes on an NCAA Div. 1 men's football team and women's soccer team were analyzed to observe if there were differences in measures of cognitive performance between players at positions of varying levels of risk for sub-acute blows to the head. No significant differences were found between measures of cognitive performance between collegiate athletes in different risk level categories based on their position. While future studies should be done to evaluate the use of position as a proxy for risk to sub-acute blows to the head and to determine the imaging technology needed to detect possible additive changes from sub-acute blows, this preliminary study suggests that head-injury prevention and research may be able to be addressed on a team level.