Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

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

HEATHER G.  BELANGER  a1 a2 a4 c1 and RODNEY D.  VANDERPLOEG  a1 a2 a3 a4
a1 James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Tampa, Florida
a2 Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
a3 Department of Psychiatry, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
a4 Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Tampa, Florida

Article author query
belanger hg   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
vanderploeg rd   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


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.)

(Received December 23 2004)
(Revised January 19 2005)
(Accepted January 19 2005)

Key Words: Brain concussion; Head injury; Mild concussion; Sequelae; Traumatic brain injury; Football; Soccer.

c1 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: