A study was recently conducted that involved 120 US college athletes who suffered a concussion. Of the 120, 40 had ADHD and 80 did not.
The athletes were all evaluated :
- before the season
- Two days after the concussion and
- Upon being cleared to play without any restrictions.
50% of athletes with ADHD were on stimulant medications for symptom relief.
The symptoms of a concussion averaged:
- 12 days for athletes with ADHD who were taking medication
- 10 days for athletes who were not on any medication and
- 4 days for athletes without ADHD
Hence, the results conclude that there is greater symptom burden and longer time for return to play for athletes carrying a diagnosis of ADHD.
Symptoms that were specifically prolonged amongst ADHD athletes included,
- Verbal memory loss
- More severe acute concussion symptoms ie worsening over the first two days.
- Larger declines in thinking and learning skills (amongst unmedicated ADHD) after a concussion.
- Larger declines in thinking and learning skills after return to play.
Researchers also pointed out that athletes with ADHD who took stimulant medications tested poorly on tests of visual motor speed.
Although the results are intriguing and sound convincing, they will need to be replicated with larger studies, said Moore.
He also stated, “Athletes with ADHD should be closely monitored keeping this slower response in mind, as it may prolong their recovery. It is also important to be aware of and take measures for any existing health conditions in anyone at a risk for concussion.
Since the results have not been published yet in a peer reviewed journal, the findings seem to be preliminary at this point. They are soon to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Sports Concussion Conference in Indianapolis.
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