Concussion in contact sports: reliable change indices of impairment and recovery

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1999 Feb;21(1):70-86. doi: 10.1076/jcen.


This paper reports a follow-up study to an article on the sensitivity of three tests of speed of information processing to impairment after concussion (Hinton-Bayre, Geffen, & McFarland, 1997). Group analyses showed that practice effects can obscure the effects of concussion on information processing, thereby making the assessment of functional impairment and recovery after injury unreliable. A Reliable Change Index (RCI) was used to assess individual variations following concussion. It was found that 16 of the 20 concussed professional rugby league players were impaired 1-3 days following injury. It was also demonstrated that 7 players still displayed cognitive deficits at 1-2 weeks, before returning to preseason levels at 3-5 weeks. The RCI permits comparisons between different tests, players, and repeated assessments, thereby providing a quantitative basis for decisions regarding return to play.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Concussion / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / etiology
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Psychometrics