There's been a lot of chatter recently about the consequences of concussions in sports, but even a minor injury like a sprained ankle can impact an athlete's cognitive performance, according to a new study out of the University of Toronto.
Researchers at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education gave 20-minute computerized cognition tests to 72 U of T varsity athletes -- some healthy, some who'd had concussions less than three days before the test, and some who were out of the game due to muscle or tendon injuries.
The researchers were not surprised to find the students who'd recently suffered concussions did more poorly on the test, showing slower reaction time and impaired memory.
But they were surprised to find the students with minor injuries also lagged behind their healthy peers. Their scores fell somewhere between the healthy students and those with head injuries.
The study's authors suggest things like anxiety, frustration or depression associated with getting hurt and losing game time could help explain the low scores.
"It's important to keep in mind that you can't automatically assume everything you find on these computerized tests is head-injury related," lead author Michael Hutchison said.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.