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The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether loss of consciousness (LOC), retrograde amnesia (RA), and anterograde amnesia (AA) independently influence a particular aspect of post-concussion cognitive functioning—across-test intra-individual variability (IIV), or cognitive dispersion.
Concussed athletes (N = 111) were evaluated, on average, 6.04 days post-injury (SD = 5.90; Mdn = 4 days; Range = 1–26 days) via clinical interview and neuropsychological assessment. Primary outcomes of interest included two measures of IIV—an intra-individual standard deviation (ISD) score and a maximum discrepancy (MD) score—computed from 18 norm-referenced variables.
Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) adjusting for time since injury and sex revealed a significant effect of LOC on the ISD (p = .018, ηp2 = .051) and MD (p = .034, ηp2 = .041) scores, such that athletes with LOC displayed significantly greater IIV than athletes without LOC. In contrast, measures of IIV did not significantly differ between athletes who did and did not experience RA or AA (all p > .05).
LOC, but not RA or AA, was associated with greater variability, or inconsistencies, in cognitive performance acutely following concussion. Though future studies are needed to verify the clinical significance of these findings, our results suggest that LOC may contribute to post-concussion cognitive dysfunction and may be a risk factor for less efficient cognitive functioning.
The purpose of this study was to examine sex differences in neuropsychological functioning after sports-related concussion using several approaches to assess cognition: mean performance, number of impaired scores, and intraindividual variability (IIV).
In the study, 152 concussed college athletes were administered a battery of neuropsychological tests, on average, 10 days post-concussion (SD = 12.75; Mdn = 4 days; Range = 0–72 days). Mean performance was evaluated across 18 individual neuropsychological variables, and the total number of impaired test scores (>1.5 SD below the mean) was calculated for each athlete. Two measures of IIV were also computed: an intraindividual standard deviation (ISD) score and a maximum discrepancy (MD) score.
Analyses of covariance revealed that, compared with males, females had significantly more impaired scores and showed greater variability on both IIV indices (ISD and MD scores) after adjusting for time since injury and post-concussive symptoms. In contrast, no significant effects of sex were found when examining mean neuropsychological performance.
Although females and males demonstrated similar mean performance following concussion, females exhibited a greater level of cognitive impairment and larger inconsistencies in cognitive performance than males. These results suggest that evaluating cognitive indices beyond mean neuropsychological scores may provide valuable information when determining the extent of post-concussion cognitive dysfunction.
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