According to some recent research out of Toronto, to be published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, led by Michael Hutchison this is the case. Any athlete suffering an injury showed declines in neurocognitive testing, significantly compared to a control group.
In this study both concussed athletes and other injured athletes were compared to a control group of uninjured athletes;
For the current study, researchers at the University of Toronto gave the 20-minute computer test to 72 student-athletes, including football, hockey, and lacrosse players. Eighteen of those athletes had suffered a concussion in the past three days, and another 18 had been taken out recently by a muscle or tendon injury.
The other 36, used for comparison, were uninjured.
We would all suspect that the concussion group would decline, and they did, but what was interesting in the findings was that the group that had sustained an injury not involving the head also showed decreases;
But those who had sustained a muscle or tendon injury also did worse than the healthy comparison group on some of the tests — and their scores generally fell in between the scores of non-injured and head-injured athletes.
Dr. Mark Halstead from the Washington University (St. Louis) School of Medicine was quoted in the Reuters story saying the computerized neurocognitive testing should be “taken with a grain of salt – it’s not the end-all, be-all”. There can be a myriad of different factors contributing to the decrease in results; depression, uncertainty and frustration of being injured.
Just as with any new research and findings further examination is needed, but it should be more information for clinicians to use this type of testing as a piece of the puzzle, how big is that piece, we are still trying to figure that out.