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Guskiewicz, K M.1; Marshall, S W.1; Broglio, S P.1; Cantu, R C.1; Kirkendall, D T.1

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2001 - Volume 33 - Issue 5 - p S186
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There is a high incidence of cerebral concussion reported in the sport of soccer. Recent studies suggest that high level European soccer players exhibit chronic neurocognitive impairments, however, no study has investigated this phenomenon in high level United States soccer players. The purpose of this study was to determine if long-term or chronic neuropsychological dysfunction is present in high level collegiate soccer players. Two hundred and forty subjects from a NCAA division I institution were stratified into three groups: soccer athletes (n = 91); non-soccer athletes (n = 96 women's field hockey, women's lacrosse, or baseball players); or student controls (n = 53 college students). Subjects completed a concussion history questionnaire and underwent preseason baseline neuropsychological testing. Performance was measured on six neuropsychological-tests (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test, Wechsler Digit Span Test, Stroop Test- Page 3, Trail Making Test- Part B, Controlled Oral Word Association Test, Symbol Digit Modalities Test) and self-report data from a concussion history questionnaire for number of previous concussions, Scholastic Aptitude Test results, and exposure to soccer and heading. Despite an average of 15.3 seasons of soccer exposure and a higher prevalence of previous concussions, several one-way ANOVA models revealed that soccer athletes did not demonstrate impaired neurocognitive function or scholastic aptitude when compared to non-soccer athletes or student non-athletes (p > .05). Additionally, there was no significant relationship between history of soccer-related concussion or exposure to heading and either neurocognitive performance or scholastic aptitude (p > .05). While the prevalence of concussion in soccer may be relatively high, neither participation in soccer, nor a history of soccer-related concussions, are associated with impaired performance of neurocognitive function in high level United States soccer players. Our findings support the hypothesis that exposure to soccer during youth and adolescence is not associated with measurable neurocognitive deficits.

©2001The American College of Sports Medicine