On-Site Athletic Concussion Assessment

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Various tools and techniques have been developed and proposed for evaluating athletes immediately after receiving a blow to the head or helmet. These range from asking the athlete simple questions (“where are we?”, “who are we playing today?”, “what’s the score?”), to visual/cognitive task tests (King-Devick), balance tests, and, among others, to the significantly more complex Sports Concussion Assessment Tool III (SCAT III), whose eight elements — based on both the individual’s perceptions and task scores as well as examiner assessments– include:

  • Symptom Score
  • Physical Signs Score
  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) Score
  • Sideline Assessment/Maddocks Score (e.g., “At which venue are we at today?”)
  • Cognitive Assessment (Orientation and Memory Components)
  • Balance Examination
  • Coordination Examination
  • Cognitive Assessment

Because the cognitive and physical abilities of individuals vary widely, any so-called “sideline test” will be more predictive when the athlete has taken the test prior to the injury – for example, when pre-season workouts begin — to establish a baseline measure of performance. A number of high school, collegiate, and professional teams already require baseline testing and that number is expected to grow.

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