University research presented at Sports Concussion Conference

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 4:29pm

Before 500 clinicians and researchers from around the world, University students and doctors presented their own research at the annual Sports Concussion Conference, hosted by the American Academy of Neurology, in Denver this past July. The study, funded by the National Collegiate Athletics Association, found that gender and concussion history does not affect long-term neurocognitive performance.

Kathryn O’Connor, a University Ph.D. student studying kinesiology and lead author of the study, said she was interested in this specific field of research because of her own athletic history.

“As a former collegiate ice hockey player, I am interested in how concussion is expressed between genders,” O'Connor said.

O’Connor’s research team included Jeffrey Kutcher MD, director of the University’s concussion research and care program Michigan Neurosport.

“The overall goal is simple: to advance clinical care and research in the area of sports concussion. The best was to do this through collaboration across disciplines and focusing our collective efforts in a positive, science-based way” Kutcher said of the conference.

Kutcher’s team studied 148 University athletes’ neurological abilities, including their attention, working memory speed among others. Of the 148 athletes, 67 were female and 36 had previously experienced a concussion. The study found the likelihood of having concussions was equal between females and males.

They ultimately concluded that a history of concussions does not significantly affect neurocognitive performance. The results also suggest that one gender may not experience more cognitive impairment than the other as a result of concussion. However, the study also indicated that women may feel the symptoms more strongly and have relatively diminished cognitive performance during preseason testing.

“The difference in performance between genders should be of great interest to athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and doctors who utilize baseline assessments to aid recovery protocols,” said O’Connor in a media release.