ROSEMONT, IL – With the NFL’s recent concussion policy changes and the rising rates of sports-related concussions (approximately 300,000/year) baseline testing is becoming a critical piece of the treatment and prevention puzzle. A new study, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine investigates baseline concussion testing two years after the initial test and provides insights into the reliability of pre-season evaluations.
“To date, there is no guideline for how often baseline concussion assessments need to be updated,” explains study author, Philip Schatz, PhD, a Professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. “Our study evaluated the reliability of baseline test scores two years after the initial test. The results illustrate that the baseline scores were reliable and may contribute towards establishing guidelines on how often testing needs to take place.
The study tested 95 collegiate athletes who underwent baseline testing during either their freshman or sophomore year and again two years later as a junior or senior. The study excluded any students that had sustained a concussion during those two years.
Baseline testing is widely accepted as an essential tool for post-concussion assessment. During the preseason health evaluations, tests are administered to assess neurocognitive function and concussion symptoms. This pre-season test is used as a basis for comparison, should an athlete sustain a concussion in the future. The study also highlights that baseline tests on college athletes do not have to be done every year but that every other year is adequate to assess risks.
Schatz notes that their sample was limited to collegiate athletes, and did not include football players. As such, the findings may not apply to youth athletes (high school or younger), who are believed to be in a period of rapid cognitive maturation. Similarly, results may not extend to football players, who have been shown to sustain unique concussive injuries (with respect to velocity and translational acceleration) as well as multiple “sub-clinical collisions” over the course of their athletic careers.
“Given the increased attention to concussion in the news and media, as well as increased scrutiny and oversight in the NFL, this is a critical stage in the evolution of concussion assessment and management techniques. We still need additional research comparing post-concussion data to baseline and updated baseline data—but at least we know now that baseline test data is reliable in the collegiate athlete for more than one year,” Schatz says.
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship, and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders. The Society works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries. For more information visit AJSM online at www.ajsm.org or contact Lisa Weisenberger or 847-292-4900.