State legislation for school sports concussion policies are gaining rapid approval. Over 30 states will have enacted laws regarding school sports concussion policies by the end of 2011, with many other states planning to pass sports concussion legislation in 2012. School administrators and athletic departments are responsible for implementing the intent of these laws, which typically include:
- Education of coaches, parents, athletes on concussion signs and symptoms
- Removal from play of any athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion
- Require written authorization from a medical professional before the athlete can return to practice/game
Many schools and sports teams are opting for computerized cognitive testing for all players as part of a concussion detection and management process. There are several options for computerized cognitive testing for sports concussions, referred to as Computerized Concussion Testing (CCT) systems.
MyBrainTest has developed a checklist of five important questions for schools and athletic departments to consider when evaluating CCT systems:
Question 1: Is the CCT system backed by published, peer reviewed research data? (PubMed, www.pubmed.gov, is an unbiased research article repository)
Question 2: Has the CCT system been tested against a large number of target-age subjects (mid-teens to mid-20s at a minimum)? The test results from this age group are important to establishing reliable test norms. (The CCT vendor should be able to provide detailed normative test data and age range information.)
Question 3: Does the CCT system include a standardized software algorithm for scoring cognitive test results? The CCT vendor should be able to provide detailed information on cognitive test score components and weighting, and how an overall (global) test score index is computed.
Question 4: Does the CCT system have a documented process for detecting invalid baseline and post injury cognitive test results? Invalid tests may result from deliberate low effort (sandbagging), distractions during the test battery, or a multitude of other causes.
Question 5: Does the CCT system include clear, simple instructions for the test subject, and a standard test instruction script for administrators? A common, standardized approach to administering cognitive tests will produce more reliable baseline results.
Readers can download a PDF version of this computerized concussion testing system checklist, which also includes an informative section on concussion signs and symptoms.
Available computerized concussion testing systems include Axon Sports, ImPACT, Concussion Vital Signs (from CNS Vital Signs) and HeadMinder. We also expect new products and vendors for sports concussion testing in 2012, given the expanding market.