Athletes With ADHD At Increased Risk Following Concussion


For the past year I have been very interested in studying concussion. I think there is a lot for us to learn about this topic and its affect on our athletes but also I believe as chiropractors we are positioned to help a lot of these injured athletes. Today I read about a recent study which concluded athletes with ADHD at increased risk following concussion.  Specifically, athletes with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face a greater risk for developing symptoms of anxiety and depression after a concussion than their peers without ADHD.

This study was presented at American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference in July 2018. The authors gave questionnaires to 979 NCAA Division 1 athletes the University of South Carolina while examining their records for diagnosis of concussion and/or ADHD. The questionnaires measured anxiety and depression and were given prior to the start of their sports season. The results found that athletes with a history of both ADHD and concussion scored higher on the anxiety and depression test than any other athletes including athletes with or without concussion or athletes with ADHD and no history of concussion.

This study shows that athletes with ADHD are at increased risk following concussion for developing depression and anxiety which could have a big impact on their life. For me this shows us that great care must be taken to ensure these athletes heal properly after their injury. We should not keep kids with ADHD from participating in sports but instead watch them closely, get a baseline examination, and test against it in any instance that a concussion is suspected. The authors of this study noted that a common test for concussion the SCAT 3 which only asks, are you depressed or anxious, and most athletes will say no. But if you give an actual anxiety or depression battery, some of them are actually depressed or anxious.

I am in favor of kids playing sports and despite the risks for concussion there are great rewards if we treat our athletes with great care. This means baseline examinations and re-testing against it if there is any injury which may appear as a concussion. If an athlete tests positive then an appropriate time of rest is necessary but how much time is unknown and may be athlete specific. This might be one week but it might be one month, or longer. Our brain is the most important organ in our body, it controls everything, if we injure it and don’t allow enough time to heal there will be serious consequences in how we are as people as we get older. These consequences might be physical but they could be mental/emotional problems. While there is no standard treatment following a concussion there are some instance where athletes have found help in their symptoms from chiropractic care. Look at what Jim McMahon does to manage his condition.


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Posted in Injury Prevention, Wellness

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