May 20, 2016
Concussion Research Updates

Recent research suggests there are changes in brain functioning due to sub-concussive head impacts. This type of injury can be described as an impact that occurs but does not cause clinical signs of concussion.

According to an article from Medical News Today, researchers at Temple University examined the effects of repetitive sub-concussive head impacts among 29 NCAA Division I football players. Altogether there were 1,193 head impacts recorded from the players’ practices, with the players grouped into higher- and lower-impacts.

To examine the effects of the head impacts, the players’ near point of convergence (NPC) ocular-motor functions were measured. This measure indicates the closest point to which someone can maintain simultaneous inward movement of the eyes—while focusing on an object—before seeing double. The study’s results showed that among players with higher-impacts, repetitive sub-concussive impacts compromised NCP functioning, although it normalized after a three-week rest period.

“The increase in NPC highlights the vulnerability and slow recovery of the ocular-motor system following subconcussive head impacts,” Medical News Today reports from the study’s authors. “Changes in NPC may become a useful clinical tool in deciphering brain injury severity.”

Another article from Medical News Today discusses research from York University on concussion recovery among children and youth. Despite usually returning to play a few weeks after a concussion, the study suggests that athletes who are between eight and 16 years old may need up to two years to fully recover.

In assessing cognitive-motor integration, 99 children and adolescents—50 of whom had a history of concussion—were asked to complete two tasks with a dual-touchscreen laptop to check their cognitive-motor integration. 

“We noticed significant difficulty in completing the tasks among those with concussion history,” Marc Dalecki, postdoctoral candidate and lead author told Medical News Today. “In fact, it took many of the children two years after the concussion to have a similar performance on the task as children who did not have a history of concussion.”   

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