New test for return to play readiness post concussion

July 26, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

David Howell is an athletic trainer and lead researcher for a new study released at the Sports Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He has long suspected that athletes are less likely to be re-injured following concussion if they are fully recovered. Returning to sports too early is a recipe for further brain damage which may not be reversed, and which may lead to cognition problems in the long run.

What is required is a simple test of cognition to help whether the concussed athlete is safe to return to play. Mr. Howell thinks that he and his team may have found one. Until now, athletes were tested for balance, vision and movement, and their thinking and reasoning ability. Experts believe that this may not be an adequate measure. Mr. Howell and his team have conducted a study of 41 high school athletes who suffered concussion playing sports and eventually returned to play.  

They were administered a ‘dual gait test’ which measures the person’s ability to walk while performing a thinking task – for example spelling words backwards or counting backwards by 7. These tests have been used to assess Alzheimer’s patients and are now being tested for TBI. The athletes were tested 3 weeks post concussions and once again when they were given permission to return to play. The test results seemed to be correlated with potential cognitive damage. Students with another injury within a year of their first concussion (ie. Another concussion, knee or ankle injury) were retested and their scores fell. The scores of students who had not been reinjured did not change.

The findings of the study suggest that the ‘walk and think test’ may be a useful addition to the tools used to assess readiness to play.

You can read the full study on the NCBI PubMed site here.


Posted under Accident Benefit News, Concussion Syndrome

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