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Tracking developmental trajectories on neurocognitive testing in young athletes ages 5–12
  1. Philip Schatz1,
  2. Charles Ferris2
  1. 1Department of Psychology, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia
  2. 2Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta


Objective Despite increased attention to sports-related concussion, there is a lack of research on younger athletes. The purpose of this study was to establish developmental trajectories on neurocognitive testing in younger athletes ages 5 to 12.

Design Pre-Test Only Design.

Setting Multi-site study from numerous locations in the Eastern USA and Canada.

Participants A total of 788 youth athletes, 73% male, assigned to groups on the basis of age: Ages 5–6 (N=128), Ages 7–8 (N=282), Ages 9–10 (N=284), Ages 11–12 (N=94).

Intervention An iPad-based Paediatric version of the ImPACT test was administered individually to participants in a quiet office setting.

Outcome measures Accuracy scores were documented on: Word List Learning (Immediate, Delayed, Recognition); and accuracy and timing scores on Design Rotation, Choice Reaction Time, Visual Sequencing and Visual Memory.

Main results One-way ANOVAs with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, and Scheffé post-hoc comparisons were conducted between age groups on the dependent measures. All measures showed statistically significant changes (p< 0.001) across the developmental age groups, with better performance in older participants and lower performance in younger participants.

Conclusions Youth athletes between the ages of 5 and 12 are underrepresented with respect to age-appropriate assessment measures, and these results document the need for developmentally- and age-appropriate measures and normative data, in order to capture neurocognitive change across developmental stages.

Competing interests Dr. Schatz serves on the ImPACT Scientific Advisory Board.


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