Psychometric and measurement properties of concussion assessment tools in youth sports

J Athl Train. Oct-Dec 2006;41(4):399-408.


Context: Establishing psychometric and measurement properties of concussion assessments is important before these assessments are used by clinicians. To date, data have been limited regarding these issues with respect to neurocognitive and postural stability testing, especially in a younger athletic population.

Objective: To determine the test-retest reliability and reliable change indices of concussion assessments in athletes participating in youth sports. A secondary objective was to determine the relationship between the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and neuropsychological assessments in young athletes.

Design: We used a repeated-measures design to evaluate the test-retest reliability of the concussion assessments in young athletes. Correlations were calculated to determine the relationship between the measures. All subjects underwent 2 test sessions 60 days apart.

Setting: Sports medicine laboratory and school or home environment.

Patients or other participants: Fifty healthy young athletes between the ages of 9 and 14 years.

Main outcome measure(s): Scores from the SAC, Balance Error Scoring System, Buschke Selective Reminding Test, Trail Making Test B, and Coding and Symbol Search subsets of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children were used in the analysis.

Results: Our test-retest indices for each of the 6 scores were poor to good, ranging from r = .46 to .83. Good reliability was found for the Coding and Symbol Search tests. The reliable change scores provided a way of determining a meaningful change in score for each assessment. We found a weak relationship ( r < .36) between the SAC and each of the neuropsychological assessments; however, stronger relationships ( r > .70) were found between certain neuropsychological measures.

Conclusions: We found moderate test-retest reliability on the cognitive tests that assessed attention, concentration, and visual processing and the Balance Error Scoring System. Our results demonstrated only a weak relationship between performance on the SAC and the selected neuropsychological tests, so it is likely that these tests assess somewhat different areas of cognitive function. Our correlational findings provide more evidence for using the SAC along with a more complex neuropsychological assessment battery in the evaluation of concussion in young athletes.