Aug 2, 2018
ADHD and Concussion

Although a number of other cognitive and neuropsychological outcomes have been linked with concussion, a recently presented study was the first to draw a connection with mental health. Specifically, after a concussion, it says there’s a risk of developing anxiety and depression-related symptoms for athletes who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to Psych Congress Network, researchers from the University of South Carolina collected information about ADHD and concussion history for 979 student-athletes. Along with this information, the researchers had information from the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale measures that the student-athletes had completed before the sporting season started.

“Athletes with ADHD may have persisting alterations in mood following concussion,” Robert Davis Moore, PhD, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at South Carolina, said. “This is important because there is a high prevalence of ADHD in athletes.”

The data collected from the study was categorized into four segments. These groups included: athletes who had a history of both ADHD and concussion; athletes with a history of ADHD, but not concussion; athletes who had concussion history, but not ADHD; and athletes who did not have a history of either.

“Our results support mental health screening after concussion,” Dr. Moore said. “Unfortunately, the current recommendations are to use the SCAT3 (Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 3), which only asks, are you depressed or anxious, and most athletes will say no. But if you give an actual anxiety or depression battery, some of them are actually depressed or anxious.”

Within the study, the athletes who had a history of both ADHD and concussion had an average score of 42 on the Inventory. This was significantly higher than the average of the other three groups (33), though the range went from 20 to 80. Similarly, the depression scores were higher for the athletes who had a history of both ADHD and concussion. This group had an average score of 26, whereas the other three groups’ average was 16 (the range went from zero to 60). A score of 16 on this measure indicates a risk of clinical depression.

“These findings suggest that ADHD and concussion may have a cumulative effect on anxiety and depression beyond that of either ADHD or concussion alone,” Dr. Moore said.

Image by U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fowler.

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