The neuropsychological outcomes of concussion: A systematic review of meta-analyses on the cognitive sequelae of mild traumatic brain injury

Justin E. Karr, Corson N. Areshenkoff, Mauricio A. Garcia-Barrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), also known as concussion, has become a growing public health concern, prevalent in both athletic and military settings. Many researchers have examined post-mTBI neuropsychological outcomes, leading to multiple meta-analyses amalgamating individual study results. Objective: Considering the plethora of meta-analytic findings, the next logical step stands as a systematic review of meta-analyses, effectively reporting key moderators that predict post-mTBI neuropsychological outcomes. Method: A systematic review of reviews yielded 11 meta-analyses meeting inclusion criteria (i.e., English-language systematic reviews/meta-analyses covering post-mTBI observational cognitive research on late adolescents/adults), with their findings qualitatively synthesized based on moderator variables (i.e., cognitive domain, time since injury, past head injury, participant characteristics, comparison group, assessment technique, and persistent symptoms). Results: The overall effect sizes ranged for both general (range: .07-.61) and sports-related mTBI (range: .40 -.81) and differed both between and within cognitive domains, with executive functions appearing most sensitive to multiple mTBI. Cognitive domains varied in recovery rates, but overall recovery occurred by 90 days postinjury for most individuals and by 7 days postinjury for athletes. Greater age/education and male gender produced smaller effects sizes, and high school athletes suffered the largest deficits post-mTBI. Controlgroup comparisons yielded larger effects than within-person designs, and assessment techniques had limited moderating effects. Conclusions: Overall, meta-analytic review quality remained low with few studies assessing publication or study quality bias. Meta-analyses consistently identified adverse acute mTBI-related effects and fairly rapid symptom resolution. Future meta-analyses should better operationally define cognitive constructs to produce more consistent effect estimates across domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 American Psychological Association.


  • Cognition
  • Concussion
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Neuropsychology
  • mTBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The neuropsychological outcomes of concussion: A systematic review of meta-analyses on the cognitive sequelae of mild traumatic brain injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this