Prospective, head-to-head study of three computerized neurocognitive assessment tools part 2: Utility for assessment of mild traumatic brain injury in emergency department patients

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2017 Mar;


Nelson, L. D., Furger, R. E., Gikas, P., Lerner, E. B., Barr, W. B., Hammeke, T. A., . . . McCrea, M. A..


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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of three computerized neurocognitive assessment tools (CNTs; i.e., ANAM, DANA, and ImPACT) for assessing mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in patients recruited through a level I trauma center emergency department (ED). METHODS: mTBI (n=94) and matched trauma control (n=80) subjects recruited from a level I trauma center emergency department completed symptom and neurocognitive assessments within 72 hr of injury and at 15 and 45 days post-injury. Concussion symptoms were also assessed via phone at 8 days post-injury. RESULTS: CNTs did not differentiate between groups at any time point (e.g., M 72-hr Cohen’s d=-.16, .02, and .00 for ANAM, DANA, and ImPACT, respectively; negative values reflect greater impairment in the mTBI group). Roughly a quarter of stability coefficients were over .70 across measures and test-retest intervals in controls. In contrast, concussion symptom score differentiated mTBI vs. control groups acutely), with this effect size diminished over time (72-hr and day 8, 15, and 45 Cohen’s d=-.78, -.60, -.49, and -.35, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The CNTs evaluated, developed and widely used to assess sport-related concussion, did not yield significant differences between patients with mTBI versus other injuries. Symptom scores better differentiated groups than CNTs, with effect sizes weaker than those reported in sport-related concussion studies. Nonspecific injury factors, and other characteristics common in ED settings, likely affect CNT performance across trauma patients as a whole and thereby diminish the validity of CNTs for assessing mTBI in this patient population. KEYWORDS: Concussion; Emergency department; Mild traumatic brain injury; Neurocognitive testing; Neuropsychological testing PMID: 28343463 DOI: 10.1017/S1355617717000157

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