Disparities on Baseline Performance Using Neurocognitive and Oculomotor Clinical Measures of Concussion

Am J Sports Med. 2020 Aug;

Wallace, J., Moran, R., Beidler, E., McAllister Deitrick, J., Shina, J., & Covassin, T..



BACKGROUND: Given the high participation of Black/African American individuals in high school sports, especially high-risk sports for concussion, it is important to note if racial and socioeconomic status (SES) differences exist in baseline performance on clinical measures of concussion. PURPOSE: To explore the association between race and SES on baseline concussion assessments of neurocognitive performance and oculomotor function in adolescent athletes. STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study (Diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3. METHODS: A total of 564 high school athletes (mean +/- SD age, 15.33 +/- 1.1 years) completed the baseline Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test and King-Devick (KD) battery before the start of their competitive season. Race was defined as either White/non-Hispanic or Black/African American. SES status was determined by whether the individual’s participating high school was a Title I or non-Title I school. A series of multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the association of computerized neurocognitive test scores (verbal memory, visual memory, motor processing speed, and reaction time), symptom severity scores, and KD scores by race and SES. RESULTS: White/non-Hispanic individuals performed significantly better than Black/African American individuals on verbal memory (P < .01), visual memory (P < .01), visual motor processing speed (P < .01), and reaction time (P < .01) and had a lower symptom score (P < .01). Regarding SES, individuals from non-Title I schools performed better on visual memory (P = .05) and reaction time (P = .02) than individuals from Title I schools. Examination of cumulative KD test reading time revealed that there was no association between race on baseline reading times (P = .12). There was a significant association between cumulative reading time and SES (P = .02). Individuals from non-Title I schools performed significantly faster than individuals from Title I schools on KD test time. CONCLUSION: Overall, race and SES influence neurocognitive and oculomotor concussion baseline performance in high school athletes. These findings add to the growing literature on the influence of race and SES on neurocognitive and oculomotor function baseline concussion assessments; they highlight the necessity for individualized concussion baseline measurements or race-specific normative reference values.

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