Does Frequency of Baseline Testing Influence Concussion Diagnostic Decision Making Among College Athletes

Arch Clin Neuropsychol - 2023

Crane, A., Roccaforte, A., Webbe, F. and LoGalbo, A..



OBJECTIVE: Concussion is a growing public health concern given the large number of youth and collegiate athletes participating in collision sports. Sport-related concussions can have an adverse impact on student-athletes’ health and academic performance. Athletic programs within academic organizations are motivated to employ the most effective and efficient diagnostic and recovery procedures to minimize the duration and impact of these symptoms on student-athletes’ functioning. The present study sought to further our understanding regarding the value and frequency of conducting baseline assessments when evaluating sport-related concussions. METHOD: A total of 41 athletes (24 men, 17 women) between the ages of 18 and 22 were evaluated following suspected concussive injury between 2015 and 2018. Post-injury test results were compared to baselines that had been collected either 1 or 2 years prior, and to normative data, to determine consistency in diagnostic outcomes. RESULTS: Baseline test/retest reliability using Pearson’s bivariate correlations revealed modest correlations on measures of verbal and visual memory (0.437-0.569) and very strong correlations on measures of reaction time and visual-motor speed (0.811-0.821). Meanwhile, minimal if any differences in clinical decision-making regarding the diagnostic outcome was observed when comparing post-injury test results to different baselines and to normative data. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that yearly baseline testing may not improve diagnostic accuracy, and in many cases, normative data may be adequate for decision-making. Additional research should evaluate the potential benefit of baseline testing in return-to-play decision-making among broader athletic populations.

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