Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Neeraja Sadagopan

Abstract

Background: This study was focused on speech in athletes who participate in high contact sports and low/no contact sports. The primary aim of this study was to explore whether speech rates and fine movements of speech differed between athletes in high contact sports compared to athletes in low and no contact sports when there have been no diagnosed concussions.

Methods: Speech was assessed through a series of experimental tasks, including reading, sentence production and nonword repetition. While neurological patterns were not directly assessed, it was hypothesized that changes in speech behavior may indicate subtle changes in neurological function in college and professional competitive athletes.

Results: The small sample size and unbalanced size of the groups precluded group comparisons via statistical analyses. However, patterns emerged between the high contact and low contact groups suggesting increased and inconsistent variability of movements in athletes that may have sustained repetitive subconcussive events.

Discussion: It is possible that repetitive subconcussive events cause changes in movement variability, processing speed and motor attention in athletes in high contact sports. This exploratory study reveals that the methodologies used may be sensitive to subtle differences between the groups. A further study is required to verify that the patterns indicate statistically valid differences between high and low/no contact athletes.

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