Assessing Spatial Orientation Skills in Athletes After Sustaining a Concussion: A Pilot Study

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As a pilot study I investigated whether suffering a sport-related concussion (SRC) affected adolescent hockey participants’ abilities to form and use cognitive maps. To assess cognitive map formation and use a modified version of the Spatial Configuration Task (m-SCT), a computerized tool that has been shown to quantitatively measure an individual’s ability to form and use cognitive maps (Burles, 2014), was administered to a group of 18 adolescent hockey participants suffering from a SRC and a group of 19 adolescent controls with similar age, sex, handedness and no reported history of concussion. Using age as a covariate, an ANCOVA revealed a significant difference between athletes’ with a concussion (M = 42.61, SD = 7.22) m-SCT performances when compared to healthy controls’ (M = 48.32, SD = 8.27; F(1,34) = 5.82, p = .021, d ̂ = -0.72). As a group, adolescent participants with concussion performed significantly worse than the control group. There was no significant difference between groups average response time and no significant correlation between m-SCT performance and athlete reported symptoms on the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, version 5 (SCAT5). However, a post hoc one-tailed Pearson’s partial correlations analysis revealed that participants with a concussion, as an independent group, show a positive relationship between average response time and performance on the m-SCT (r(15) = .51, p = .038). A discussion is provided and focuses on implications of the observed groups difference in performances on the m-SCT, the study’s limitations and recommendations for future studies wishing to investigate cognitive map formation in adolescents’ athletes with concussion. Additionally, this study also provides preliminary results showing that the Spatial Configuration Task may be modified in difficulty when assessing cognitive map formation in adolescents and children.
Concussion, mTBI, Adolescent, Hockey, Spatial Navigation, Spatial, Navigation, Cognitive Map, Cognitive Map Formation, Cognitive Map Use
McFarlane, L. H. (2019). Assessing Spatial Orientation Skills in Athletes After Sustaining a Concussion: A Pilot Study. (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from