Research Reports - Obesity and neurocognitive recovery after sports-related concussion in athletes

Phys Sportsmed. 2016 Sep;44(3):217-22. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1216718. Epub
2016 Aug 8.

Lee YM(1), Wu A(2), Zuckerman SL(3), Stanko KM(4), LaChaud GY(1), Solomon GS(3),
Sills AK(3).

OBJECTIVES: Sports-related concussions (SRCs) are a significant public health
concern in athletes. Data exist suggesting a link between obesity and decreased
neurocognitive function, yet the effect of body mass index (BMI) on
neurocognitive function and recovery after a SRC is unknown. The goal of our
study was to discern the effect of BMI on recovery after SRC.
METHODS: This study was a retrospective observational cohort study. Between 2013
and 2014, 7,606 athletes between the ages of 13-20 years valid baseline
neurocognitive testing performed at multiple regional concussion centers
sustained a concussion. Out of these athletes, 711 normal weight athletes and 711
obese athletes were matched by age, gender, number of previous concussions, and
sport. The proportions of athletes returning to baseline within two weeks between
the groups were defined by using 80% confidence reliable change index (RCI)
criteria and were compared using Fisher's Exact Test. Kaplan-Meier survival curve
analysis with log-rank test was used to compare the median time to neurocognitive
recovery between groups.
RESULTS: Fewer obese athletes returned to baseline within 2 weeks on measures of
verbal memory, visual motor speed, reaction time, postconcussion symptom scale
(PCSS), and overall recovery compared to normal weight athletes. Obese athletes
also had greater median time of return to baseline with respect to reaction time,
PCSS, and overall recovery.
CONCLUSION: Using RCI methodology, there exists an association between obesity
and increased time to return to neurocognitive and symptom baseline after SRC in
athletes, specifically reaction time, symptom scores, and overall recovery. 

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