A review summarizes the current state-of-the-art concussion evaluation instruments, ranging from the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) and tools that may enhance concussion detection, to near-term blood-based biomarkers and emerging technology (eg, head impact sensors, vestibular-ocular/eye-tracking, and mobile applications). Special focus is directed at feasibility, utility, generalizability, and challenges to implementation of each measure on-field and on the sidelines. A review of Yue et al. finds that few instruments beyond the SCAT provide guidance for removal from play, and establishing thresholds for concussion detection and removal from play in qualification/validation of future instruments is of high importance. The integration of emerging sideline concussion evaluation tools should be supported by resources and education to athletes, caregivers, athletic staff, and medical professionals for standardized administration as well as triage, referral, and prevention strategies. It should be noted that concussion evaluation instruments are used to assist the clinician in sideline diagnosis, and no single test can diagnose concussion as a standalone investigation 1).
Over the last 2 decades, sports related concussion (SRC) has garnered significant attention. Even with increased awareness and athlete education, sideline recognition and real-time diagnosis remain crucial. The need for an objective and standardized assessment of concussion led to the eventual development of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) during the Second International Conference on Concussion in Sport in 2004.
The purpose of a study of was to use the second edition of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT2) to profile a cohort of 60 healthy community volunteers who had not sustained a head injury. Participating volunteers underwent MRI scanning and were evaluated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Participants reported a median of 3 concussion-like symptoms and the 97.5 percentile score was found at 10.5 symptoms, out of a total of 22. The median severity score was 4.9 points, and 28.9 was the upper limit of the reference interval. Only 10 participants (16.7%) did not endorse any symptom. The most frequently endorsed symptom was feeling difficulty in concentrating, with 41.7% of the sample reporting it. Age, sex and general distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms were not associated with concussion-like symptoms.
This data yielded elevated cut-offs scores for both the number of symptoms and the symptom severity. In conclusion, postconcussive-like symptoms are frequent in the general non-concussed adult population and it should be taken into account in any future models developed for screening patients at risk of developing physical, cognitive, and psychological complaints following mild traumatic brain injury 2).
Despite growing research on concussion, there is minimal evidence comparing the acute presentation of concussion between pediatric and adult patients. This cross-sectional study compares injury characteristics, symptoms, and neurologic examination in sport-related concussion based on age. Patients presenting to an outpatient sports neurology clinic for initial assessment of concussion within 7 days of injury were divided into 2 groups, 18 and older (n = 28) and 17 and younger (n = 107). There were no significant differences between pediatric and adult patients in any score of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-3rd Edition symptom scale, neurologic examination category, pertinent elements of past medical history, or characteristics of the concussion. The pediatric group had higher average hours of sleep (8.1 ± 0.3 vs 7.1 ± 0.58; P = .03) and were less likely to wake refreshed (36.3% vs 65%; P = .02). The initial presentation of concussion within 7 days of injury will likely not differ by age, specifically 18 and older versus 17 and younger 3).
Pediatric athletes diagnosed with migraine headaches reported higher baseline symptom provocation scores on the VOMS. Athletes with migraine headaches also performed worse on the K-D test, further illustrating the influence of premorbid migraine headaches as a risk factor for elevated concussion assessment outcomes at baseline. Special consideration may be warranted for post-concussion assessment in athletes with migraine headaches 4).
Yengo-Kahn et al., conducted a systematic review of the SCAT and the evidence supporting its use to date.
English-language titles and abstracts published between 1995 and October 2015 were searched systematically across 4 electronic databases and a review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines adapted for the review of a heterogeneous collection of study designs. Peer-reviewed journal articles were included if they reported quantitative data on any iteration of the SCAT, Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC), or modified Balance Error Scoring System (mBESS) data at baseline or following concussion in an exclusively athlete population with any portion older than 13 years of age. Studies that included nonathletes, only children less than 13 years old, exclusively BESS data, exclusively symptom scale data, or a non-SCAT-related assessment were excluded. RESULTS The database search process yielded 549 abstracts, and 105 full-text articles were reviewed with 36 meeting criteria for inclusion. Nineteen studies were associated with the SAC, 1 was associated with the mBESS exclusively, and 16 studies were associated with a full iteration of the SCAT. The majority of these studies (56%) were prospective cohort studies. Male football players were the most common athletes studied. An analysis of the studies focused on baseline differences associated with age, sex, concussion history, and the ability to detect an SRC.
Looking toward the upcoming Concussion in Sport Group meeting in fall 2016, one may expect further revision to the SCAT3. However, based on this systematic review, the authors propose further, in-depth study of an already comprehensive concussion test, with acute, diagnostic, as well as long-term use 5).