Validity of Baseline Concussion Tests
SATURDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Baseline concussion tests
for athletes may do more harm than good in some cases, an expert
Baseline concussion testing provides a baseline score of an
athlete's cognitive abilities, such as reaction time, working
memory and attention span. Athletes who suffer a concussion retake
the test, and if there is a large decrease in the score, they are
typically banned from play until their score improves.
But the tests, which are mandatory for hundreds of thousands of
amateur and professional athletes in the United States, have a high
"false negative" rate, according to Christopher Randolph, a
neuropsychologist at Loyola University Health System.
A false negative result means the test shows an athlete has
recovered from a concussion when they're actually still
experiencing effects from the injury. As a result, an athlete might
be allowed to return to play before it's safe.
Randolph analyzed the scientific literature and could not find a
prospective, controlled study of the current version of the most
common baseline concussion test, called ImPACT (Immediate
Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). Athletes take
the 20-minute test on a computer.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the use of baseline testing alters any risk from sport-related concussion, nor is there even a good rationale as to how such tests might influence outcome," Randolph wrote in an article published in a recent issue of the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports.
Instead of relying on baseline concussion tests, medical staff
on sports teams "may be better advised to rely upon their own
clinical judgment, in conjunction with a validated symptom
checklist, in making return-to-play decisions," for athletes who
have suffered a concussion, Randolph suggested.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more about
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