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In response to advancing clinical practice guidelines regarding concussion management, service members, like athletes, complete a baseline assessment prior to participating in high-risk activities. While several studies have established test stability in athletes, no investigation to date has examined the stability of baseline assessment scores in military cadets. The objective of this study was to assess the test–retest reliability of a baseline concussion test battery in cadets at U.S. Service Academies.
All cadets participating in the Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium investigation completed a standard baseline battery that included memory, balance, symptom, and neurocognitive assessments. Annual baseline testing was completed during the first 3 years of the study. A two-way mixed-model analysis of variance (intraclass correlation coefficent (ICC)3,1) and Kappa statistics were used to assess the stability of the metrics at 1-year and 2-year time intervals.
ICC values for the 1-year test interval ranged from 0.28 to 0.67 and from 0.15 to 0.57 for the 2-year interval. Kappa values ranged from 0.16 to 0.21 for the 1-year interval and from 0.29 to 0.31 for the 2-year test interval. Across all measures, the observed effects were small, ranging from 0.01 to 0.44.
This investigation noted less than optimal reliability for the most common concussion baseline assessments. While none of the assessments met or exceeded the accepted clinical threshold, the effect sizes were relatively small suggesting an overlap in performance from year-to-year. As such, baseline assessments beyond the initial evaluation in cadets are not essential but could aid concussion diagnosis.
Objectives: To describe multivariate base rates (MBRs) of low scores and reliable change (decline) scores on Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) in college athletes at baseline, as well as to assess MBR differences among demographic and medical history subpopulations. Methods: Data were reported on 15,909 participants (46.5% female) from the NCAA/DoD CARE Consortium. MBRs of ImPACT composite scores were derived using published CARE normative data and reliability metrics. MBRs of sex-corrected low scores were reported at <25th percentile (Low Average), <10th percentile (Borderline), and ≤2nd percentile (Impaired). MBRs of reliable decline scores were reported at the 75%, 90%, 95%, and 99% confidence intervals. We analyzed subgroups by sex, race, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and/or learning disability (ADHD/LD), anxiety/depression, and concussion history using chi-square analyses. Results: Base rates of low scores and reliable decline scores on individual composites approximated the normative distribution. Athletes obtained ≥1 low score with frequencies of 63.4% (Low Average), 32.0% (Borderline), and 9.1% (Impaired). Athletes obtained ≥1 reliable decline score with frequencies of 66.8%, 32.2%, 18%, and 3.8%, respectively. Comparatively few athletes had low scores or reliable decline on ≥2 composite scores. Black/African American athletes and athletes with ADHD/LD had higher rates of low scores, while greater concussion history was associated with lower MBRs (p < .01). MBRs of reliable decline were not associated with demographic or medical factors. Conclusions: Clinical interpretation of low scores and reliable decline on ImPACT depends on the strictness of the low score cutoff, the reliable change criterion, and the number of scores exceeding these cutoffs. Race and ADHD influence the frequency of low scores at all cutoffs cross-sectionally.
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