Lack of sleep can skew concussion testing

Athletes who didn’t get enough shuteye the night before undergoing concussion testing performed more poorly than those who received a full night’s sleep, according to a new study from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Athletes with fewer than seven hours of sleep before tests performed poorly on those measuring verbal memory, visual memory and reaction time. Assessments of visual-motor skills, however, were not affected.

The research team tested and analyzed the test scores of 3,686 high school and college-age athletes—none of whom suffered from a concussion.

“Understanding factors which modify baseline testing, potentially including sleep, will continue to help lead to more accurate concussion testing, which ultimately equips clinicians with the best judgment to avoid returning athletes to competition earlier than necessary,” says Dr. Jake McClure, lead author of the study.

The research was presented in July at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Chicago.

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