Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

William F. Chaplin

Second Advisor

Robin L. Wellington

Third Advisor

Wilson McDermut


Each year approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million people suffer a sports-related traumatic brain injury (Langlois, Rutland-Brown, & Wald, 2006). Concussions, a common form of mild traumatic brain injury, account for 75% of total brain injuries in the United States (Faul, Xu, Wald, & Coronado, 2010). In sports, concussions account for 1 of every 10 injuries (Marar, McIlvain, Fields, & Comstock, 2012). Overall, concussion symptoms typically remit within one to four weeks from injury (McCrea, 2007); however, conflict exists surrounding the duration of time that would be safe for a concussed student-athlete to return to functioning, both to sport and to class. According to the most recent evidence on concussion recovery and return to play statistics in a collegiate student-athlete population, an athlete, on average, will return to functioning within 16.1 days (McCrea et al, 2019). The primary role in evaluating collegiate sports-related concussions is to determine when and how a student-athlete should return to physical and cognitive activity. Concussions are known to result in a wide array of neurologic, somatic, cognitive, and behavioral deficits. The diagnosis of a concussion is determined by the athlete’s presentation of symptoms; however, many of these symptoms are both subjective and ubiquitous. When athletes are concussed, they undergo a series of tests including a self-reported inventory of symptoms. Previous research has identified four distinct domains of symptoms endorsed by athletes on the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) consisting of cognitive, physical, affective, and sleep symptoms (Merritt & Arnett, 2014). The aim of this study is to critically examine post-concussive symptoms within a collegiate athlete sample and identify existing relationships between symptom clusters and recovery times. Identifying such relationships could be the first step in understanding symptom-based markers of concussion duration, which would inform the challenging return to play and return to class decisions.