Taking Concussion Vital Signs Neurocognitive Test Under Varied Conditions

Authors: Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
Sarah Stauffer, AT, ATC
Andrew Chaney, AT, ATC
Kelsey Garrison, AT, ATC
Wright State University

Corresponding Author:
Scott L. Bruce, EdD, AT, ATC
Assistant Professor/Director of Research
Wright State University
3680 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45435
937-245-7622
scott.bruce@wright.edu

Scott Bruce is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Research for the Athletic Training Program at Wright State University.

Taking Concussion Vital Signs Neurocognitive Test Under Varied Conditions

ABSTRACT
Neurocognitive test batteries are commonly used tools for concussion assessments in the medical professions. Administered at baseline and post-injury these tests provide information on a patient’s neurocognitive ability during the recovery and return-to-activity phases. In athletics, student-athletes usually take the baseline exam as a group in a computer lab prior to the season beginning. If a medical professional believes an individual has sustained a possible concussion, they will retest them and compare their post-injury and baseline results. A deficit in one of more areas of the neurocognitive test may be indicative of a possible concussion. The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not there was a difference in neurocognitive test scores from Concussion Vital Signs when tested under two different conditions: “lights out” and with distractions. Our study was a randomized control trial performed at a Midwestern NCAA, “mid-major” Division I Institution. The subjects were 15 college-aged students with an overall mean age of 19 years (1.2). There were seven females (mean age was 19 ± 0.77) and eight males (mean age was 20 ± 1.2). A paired t-test was used to determine if a difference in the neurocognitive test section scores between the conditions existed. On three of the ten test sections, there was a statistically significant difference between the baseline and distraction condition. On four of the ten test sections between baseline and the lights out condition for males, but not for females. Testing should be done in a quiet room, with distractions minimized, as distraction hinders focus and performance. The results of this study indicate males may have a more difficult time concentrating while taking neurocognitive tests than females. Administering neurocognitive testing in a quiet, well-lit room is the best condition for the patient to take these concussion-related tests.

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