Background: Numerous medical organizations recommend a multifaceted approach to the assessment of concussion occurring during sporting events. A number of tools are available to clinicians, with a wide breadth of sensitivity and specificity; however, little work has been done to evaluate the combined efficiency of these tools in concussed male and female athletes from a broad array of collegiate sports and with variable time from the pre-season baseline evaluation. Objective: The aim of this study was to optimize the concussion assessment battery for application within the first 72 h of injury, and to identify the necessary baseline retesting frequency. Methods: Between 2014 and 2017, a total of 1458 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes sustaining 1640 diagnosed concussions completed a baseline assessment each year of the investigation and were evaluated up to three times within the first 72 h of injury using a standardized assessment protocol. Classification and regression tree analyses were implemented to identify the most efficient multifaceted assessment pathway to quantify concussion-related outcomes. Results were optimized for assessments occurring within 1 h post-injury, 1–24 h post-injury, and 24–72 h post-injury when using the raw post-injury assessment performance, difference scores from baseline evaluations occurring in the same year, and difference scores from baseline evaluations occurring the year prior. Results: At each of the assessment time points, the analyses indicated that alone or in combination, a symptom evaluation, Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) scores collected on the firm surface, and Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) total score offered the best overall performance when compared with pre-morbid performance captured in the same season. Optimized sensitivity of the multifaceted approach was 61% within 1 h of injury, 67% at the 1–24 h interval, and 55% at the 24–72 h interval when difference scores from the same-season baseline were available. Conclusions: This investigation identified key concussion assessments in quantifying post-concussion performance among student athletes, that were maximized when same-season pre-morbid evaluations were available. Consistent with clinical recommendations, medical professionals should continue to focus on symptom reporting, postural control, and neurocognitive screening to support the clinical examination when making a concussion diagnosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation