Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Anthony LoGalbo

Second Advisor

Vida L. Tyc

Third Advisor

David A. Wilder

Fourth Advisor

Robert Taylor


Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between pre-existing headache disorders, such as headache or migraine, and neurocognitive testing obtained before and after college-athletes sustain a concussion. Method: A total of 1129 NCAA Division II college athletes from Florida Tech were included in the present study. Participants were included in this study if they completed baseline and/or post-trauma neuropsychological evaluations that included the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool – Fifth Edition (SCAT-5) and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Tool (ImPACT). Athletes’ headache and/or migraine history was self-reported at baseline and indicated their position in headache history or non-headache history groups. Additionally, athletes self-reported their most recent prior concussion recovery time in a self-report manner. Results: Results showed that athletes with a history of headache and/or migraine reported more symptoms and increased symptom severity at baseline compared to athletes with no history of headache and/or migraine. In addition, athletes with a headache history performed significantly worse on ImPACT visual memory and demonstrated significantly lower performance on psychomotor speed composites. Although larger differences from baseline to post-trauma were not observed in athletes with a headache history when accounting for baseline symptoms, headache history athletes did report significantly longer recovery times for prior suspected concussions.Conclusion: This study provides more evidence toward the influence pre-existing headaches and/or migraines in a collegiate athlete population prior to and following a concussion. Furthermore, this study indicates a need for future research narrowing the scope on specific headache and migraine factors, such as migraine with and without aura, on neurocognitive testing with the SCAT-5 and ImPACT test. In addition, aspects of this study indicate the importance of utilizing individualized baseline comparisons rather than group norming based on significant differences in performances across athletes with and without a headache history. However, if future research continues to find differences amongst these groups, it is hoped a normed baseline group specific to headache and/or migraine history will be considered. Lastly, it is imperative that separate recommendations are made and tailored to individual athletes with a history of headache and/or migraine based on differences amongst symptoms, severity of symptoms, and neurocognitive testing (e.g., visual memory, reaction time, visual motor speed), albeit future research should examine which kind of recommendations should be made.


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