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The neuropsychological impact of sports-related concussion: A meta-analysis

  • HEATHER G. BELANGER (a1) (a2) (a3) and RODNEY D. VANDERPLOEG (a1) (a2) (a4) (a3)


There is increasing interest in the potential neuropsychological impact of sports-related concussion. A meta-analysis of the relevant literature was conducted to determine the impact of sports-related concussion across six cognitive domains. The analysis was based on 21 studies involving 790 cases of concussion and 2014 control cases. The overall effect of concussion (d = 0.49) was comparable to the effect found in the non-sports-related mild traumatic brain injury population (d = 0.54; Belanger et al., 2005). Using sports-concussed participants with a history of prior head injury appears to inflate the effect sizes associated with the current sports-related concussion. Acute effects (within 24 hr of injury) of concussion were greatest for delayed memory, memory acquisition, and global cognitive functioning (d = 1.00, 1.03, and 1.42, respectively). However, no residual neuropsychological impairments were found when testing was completed beyond 7 days postinjury. These findings were moderated by cognitive domain and comparison group (control group versus preconcussion self-control). Specifically, delayed memory in studies utilizing a control group remained problematic at 7 days. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed. (JINS, 2005, 11, 345–357.)


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: Heather Belanger, Ph.D., James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—117, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail:


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