Concussion Research - Impact of Concussions on Children’s Mental Health

Honsberger Physio+ is very excited to partner with The University of Toronto - Masters Student, Megan Mueller, of the
Developmental Psychology and Education Applied Psychology and Human Development OISE to further investigate 'The Impact of Concussions on Children’s Mental Health'. 

Honsberger Physio+ is commited to investing in research and innovation in order to provide leading edge therapy and contributing to the larger picture of Concussion Care globally. 

Background : Concussions in children have a negative secondary impact on educational and

social attainment. This occurs due to the negative impact that head trauma has on processes such

as information processing, attention and executive function, which are critical for common daily

activities (1). However, little research has been conducted on the impact of concussions on

children’s mental health. Among adult athletes who experience traumatic brain injuries,

depression is the most common psychological disturbance, found in 6% of athletes who suffer

mild concussions and 77% of athletes who suffer more severe brain injuries (2). In adults,

physical activity has been found to have positive effects on mental health and has the potential to

be used in the treatment of depression (4).

Recent research has examined the role that active rehabilitation plays in improving

concussion symptoms in children when concussions take longer than a month to heal (5).

Although it was previously recommended that children be asymptomatic before engaging in

activity (3), it has recently been found that, for children and adolescents who have slower

recovery, involvement in controlled and closely monitored rehabilitation activity decreases

recovery time (3).

Purpose of Proposed Research: The purpose of the proposed research is to: (i) assess the

impact of concussions on child athlete’s and depressive symptoms ; (ii) assess the efficacy of

different intervention techniques on children’s depressive symptoms; and (iii) explore the impact

of concussions on the child’s self-image as well as the parents perception of the child’s recovery.

The research presented below will provide insight about the impact that concussions have on

children’s depressive symptoms, and whether active rehabilitation improves children’s

depressive symptoms and concussion symptoms.

Specific Aims: The goal of this study is to evaluate whether active rehabilitation for child

athletes aids in reducing recovery time and reducing depressive symptoms in the child.

Research Question: Do concussions in child athletes lead to depression and can the depressive

symptoms be improved through active rehabilitation?

Participants: Participants will include approximately 25 children ages 7-14 years who have

suffered from concussions.

Procedure: Children will complete a baseline concussion test as well as complete a qualitative

assessment regarding depressive symptoms. When the athlete suffers a concussion and comes in

for testing, children will take the original concussion test as well as take part in the qualitative

assessment regarding depressive symptoms. This assessment will take place 1-2 weeks following

the injury. Athletes will then undergo active rehabilitation practices and will complete all testing

approximately 4-6 weeks post-concussion. Participants and families will also be given the option

to speak about the impact the concussion has had on the child’s life and self-image.

Significance: This study will explore the efficacy of active rehabilitation and the impact it has

on the depressive symptoms of child athletes who suffer from concussions.

Ethics: This project will be submitted to the Ethics Board at the University of Toronto.

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact Megan Mueller or Dr. Richard Volpe if you have any questions or concerns about the study.

Researcher: Megan Mueller
Principle Investigator: Dr. Richard Volpe

University of Toronto, OISE University of Toronto, OISE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

To read more about the Letter of Consent for all research study participants, please visit: 


(1) McCrory, P., Collie, A., Anderson, V., & Davis, G. (2004). Can we manage sport related

concussion in children the same as in adults?. British journal of sports medicine, 38(5),


(2) Guskiewicz, K. M., Marshall, S. W., Bailes, J., McCrea, M., Harding, H. P., Matthews, A., ...

& Cantu, R. C. (2007). Recurrent concussion and risk of depression in retired

professional football players. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(6), 903.

(3) Gagnon, I., Galli, C., Friedman, D., Grilli, L., & Iverson, G. L. (2009). Active rehabilitation

for children who are slow to recover following sport-related concussion. Brain

injury, 23(12), 956-964.

(4) Mead GE, Morley W, Campbell P, Greig CA, McMurdo M, Lawlor DA. Exercise for

depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, 3, Art. No.:CD004366

(5) Vidal, P. G., Goodman, A. M., Colin, A., Leddy, J. J., & Grady, M. F. (2012). Rehabilitation

strategies for prolonged recovery in pediatric and adolescent concussion. Pediatric

annals, 41(9), e186-e191.

(6) Lovell, M. R., & Fazio, V. (2008). Concussion management in the child and adolescent

athlete. Current sports medicine reports, 7(1), 12-15.

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