Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D

Second Advisor

Virginia Salzer, PhD

Third Advisor

Amanda Lonnie, PhD


The purpose of this study was to investigate risk factors that are associated with low baseline concussion test scores by examining a range of modifiers such as previous concussion and pre-existing childhood disorders such as LD, ADHD, or mood disorder (depression/anxiety) in middle school age children. This study utilized a between-subjects research design. Participants included de-identified archival data of male and female student athletes, ages I 0-14 years old that participated in preseason testing at a small private concussion center located in suburban central New Jersey between 2006 and 2016. Data were obtained using retrospective computerized baseline neuropsychological testing and symptoms reporting data obtained from the ImPACT. Children with a previous diagnosis of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or a learning disability performed significantly lower on most neurocognitive measures compared with children without ADHD or a learning disability. In contrast, there was no difference in neurocognitive scores in children with a previous resolved concussion or preexisting psychiatric condition (i.e., depression or anxiety), compared with children who had not endured a previous concussion, or with no history of depression or anxiety. Children who reported more symptoms at baseline scored lower on neurocognitive measures, and children with either pre-existing ADHD or psychiatric condition reported more symptoms at baseline. These results converge with current research on concussion and extends it to the 10-14 age range. An important finding of this study was the importance that baseline symptoms play, either independently or interdependently of pre-existing conditions, on initial neurocognitive testing. It also highlights the fact that, despite the current guidelines discouraging routine baseline testing in younger populations due to their changing brains, there may be utility for baseline testing in special populations, given the reduced applicability of norms to these individuals.

Included in

Psychology Commons