ImPACT™ Performance of High School Student Athletes with ADHD



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BACKGROUND: To date, two studies demonstrate that adolescents with ADHD tend to perform poorer on the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT; Lovell, 2013) at baseline than do adolescents without ADHD at baseline (Elbin et al., 2013; Zuckerman, Lee, Odom, Solomon, & Sills, 2013). In an effort to replicate and extend these studies, the baseline and immediate post-concussion performance of high school athletes with and without ADHD were evaluated to identify potential differences between groups on the ImPACT’s domains. SUBJECTS: Student athletes were recruited from a private high school. Baseline testing was conducted biannually to establish pre-injury/baseline levels of individual participants. Thirty-eight students with ADHD and a matched control group of thirty-eight students without ADHD were used to test the first hypothesis. Twenty-three students with ADHD and a matched control group of twenty-three students without ADHD who sustained a concussion were used to test the second and third hypotheses. Additional analyses were performed on data from four student athletes with ADHD who sustained a concussion. METHOD: Data were used from a larger study conducted by a large public metropolitan university. Variables included demographic information and the ImPACT. All data were stored on an encrypted computer or in a locked file cabinet. RESULTS: Independent samples t-tests revealed significant differences between athletes with ADHD and non-ADHD athletes at baseline on the Impulse Control (t (74) = 2.73, p < .01) and the Total Symptoms (t(74)= 2.63, p < .05) scores of the ImPACT. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted on data from two time periods. A statistically significant difference (F(6, 39) = 2.86, p = .02; Wilks’ ? = 0.694; ?2 = .31) in ImPACT performance was found between non-concussed athletes with ADHD tested at baseline and concussed athletes without ADHD tested within 72 hours of injury (M = 1.83 days). Further analysis using independent samples t-tests found that athletes with ADHD at baseline performed significantly better than concussed athletes without ADHD tested within 72 hours of injury, on the following composites: Verbal Memory (t(44)= 2.25, p < .05), Visual Motor Speed (t(44)= 2.33, p < .05), Reaction Time (t(44)= -3.42, p < .01), and Total Symptoms (t(44)= -3.52, p < .01). No significant between-group differences were found on the Visual Memory or Impulse Control composites of the ImPACT. DISCUSSION: These findings indicate that administration of the ImPACT to individuals with ADHD is appropriate. At baseline, both groups performed similarly on Verbal Memory, Visual Memory, Visual Motor Speed and Reaction Time. However, the overlap in ADHD and concussion profiles on Impulse Control and Visual Memory warrant caution in the clinical interpretation of the ImPACT profiles of individuals with ADHD. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the overall use of normative data within an ADHD population is appropriate, and baseline testing has values for athletes with ADHD.

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