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Implications of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders on neurocognitive performance and recovery in collegiate student–athletes
  1. Caroline Ketcham1,
  2. Kirtida Patel2,
  3. Eric Hall1
  1. 1Department of Exercise Science and Elon BrainCARE, Elon University
  2. 2Department of Sports Medicine and Elon BrainCARE, Elon University


Background Approximately 3–13% of college-aged students have a diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) which is characterised by impulsivity, inattention, and cognitive speed deficits which affects academic, athletic, and occupational performance even when treated.

Objective The purpose of this study was to examine baseline neurocognitive differences in collegiate student-athletes with diagnosis of ADD/ADHD as well as recovery time from concussion.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Collegiate campus in North Carolina

Participants Participants of this study included 1161 student-athletes (varsity, n=272 and club, n=889). 89 participants were followed post-concussion with 8 having diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.

Assessment of risk factors Diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and days of recovery following concussion.

Outcome measures Participants completed the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing which generated composite scores on Verbal Memory, Visual Memory, Visuomotor Speed, and Reaction Time as well as Total Symptom Scores.

Main results There were no significant differences between groups for Visual Memory, Reaction Time and Total Symptom Scores (p>0.05). Those with diagnosis of ADD/ADHD (n=146) had lower verbal memory(mno=85.3, %95 CI: [84.6, 86] vs. madd=82.5, %95 CI:[80.7, 84.3], F(1, 1145)=8.6, p=0.003) and slower visuomotor speed (mno=41.7, %95 CI: [41.3, 42.7] vs. madd=40.5, %95: CI:[39.5,41.5],F(1,1145)=8.6,p=0.027) compared to those without a diagnosis. Those with ADD/ADHD took almost two times longer to recover than those without (mno=7.3 days, %95 CI: [6.2, 8.4] vs. madd=13.3 days, %95 CI:[9.4, 17.2], F(1, 89)=9.8, p=0.002).

Conclusions Student-athletes with diagnosis of ADD/ADHD may benefit from targeted interventions as part of return to play/learn protocols. Previous research has shown that practice may help rehabilitate those with cognitive and visuomotor processing speed deficits following a concussion.

Competing interests None.

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