Neurophysiological Deficits Persist Following Concussion

Teen athletes who suffer a concussion have persistent deficits in working memory

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29 (HealthDay News) -- For athletes who suffer a concussion, neurophysiological deficits persist and are present at least six months following a concussion, and adolescents appear to be more vulnerable to the consequences of concussion, according to a study published in the March issue of Brain Injury.

Dave Ellemberg, Ph.D., from the University of Montreal, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 96 athletes, half of whom had a sports concussion, to investigate whether age differences exist with respect to neuropsychological and electrophysiological functioning following a sports-related concussion. Standardized neuropsychological tests were used to assess cognitive functioning. P3a and P3b latencies and amplitudes were analyzed for concussed athletes versus controls, and according to age (9- to 12-year-olds, 13- to 16-year-olds, and adults). For each age group, the time elapsed since last concussion was an average of six months.

The researchers found that, compared to athletes without concussion, concussed athletes had significantly lower amplitude for the P3b component. In addition, teenagers demonstrated persistent deficits in working memory.

"For a long time, we believed that the brain of a child was more plastic and could therefore better recover from an accident or stress," Ellemberg said in a statement. "In recent years, we've realized that, quite to the contrary, a child's brain is more vulnerable. Our research shows that children are as afflicted as adults by a concussion."

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