Research Reports - Olfaction in athletes with concussion

Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012 May;26(3):222-6

Charland-Verville V, Lassonde M, Frasnelli J.

BACKGROUND: Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) commonly lead to
olfactory dysfunction; it is, however, unclear whether and to what degree mild
TBI such as concussions, which are common sports injuries, affect olfactory
function. We therefore aimed to evaluate smell function in athletes who sustained
one or more sport concussions in a cross-sectional design.
METHODS: Twenty-two University-level football players with one or multiple
concussions and 13 control athletes without a history of concussion participated.
We measured olfactory function by using the Sniffin' Sticks test to assess
subjects' ability to discriminate and identify odors as well as their detection
thresholds. In addition, we assessed odor intensity and pleasantness.
RESULTS: We used number of concussions and time since the last concussion as
independent variables and measure of olfactory function as dependent variables.
Although we did not observe any significant effect of the number of concussions,
athletes with a longer delay from time of concussion scored significantly weaker
than more recently concussed subjects on the odor identification test and on an
aggregate olfactory score. Accordingly, we observed a significant negative linear
correlation between the odor identification score and the time elapsed since the
last concussion.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest a possible degenerative effect of concussions
on olfactory function.

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