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CARE Consortium: Quantifying the value of concussion assessment models

Study examines efficacy of common concussion tools

A litany of concussion assessment tools are available to practitioners, but what test — or combination of tests — is most effective in making an accurate diagnosis? Gian-Gabriel Garcia, a Ph.D. candidate in industrial operations engineering at Michigan, examined the efficacy of common concussion assessment tools in a February paper published in Sports Medicine, an academic journal. Garcia relied on data from more than 2,800 student-athletes, including military academy cadets, taking part in the Concussion, Assessment Research and Education Consortium study.

What did the study find?

The use of multidimensional assessment batteries was more effective than single instruments, which suggests the importance of using the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool to evaluate symptoms. Also, balance assessments may not provide additional diagnostic benefits during a concussion assessment, provided symptom and neurocognitive tests also were available.

What are the implications?

Evaluating symptoms, neurological status or balance alone doesn’t paint a complete enough picture to make an accurate diagnosis. Combining these elements proves to be the most effective way to make an assessment.

“Results support the use of multidimensional assessment batteries over single instruments and suggest the importance of self-reported symptoms in acute concussion assessment,” the paper noted.

What’s next?

The study only examined college-age student-athletes and non-NCAA athlete cadets. Other comparable studies should examine younger and older populations to see if the same findings apply to those groups and should investigate whether these models generalize to high school, recreational or professional athletes.

Furthermore, total scores were used for the Standardized Assessment of Concussion, Sport Concussion Assessment Tool symptom assessments and Balance Error Scoring System. Future studies should investigate specific features of these tests. Finally, the concussion assessments in this study are not exhaustive, and, thus, future studies may consider other measures such as the Sensory Organization Test, Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, and CNS Vital Signs in their analysis.