Objective: To determine baseline symptom and neurocognitive norms for non-concussed and previously concussed varsity athletes using the sport concussion assessment tool (SCAT).
Study design: Descriptive cohort study.
Setting: University of Calgary.
Subjects: 260 male and female university football, ice hockey and wrestling athletes over three seasons (2005-7).
Methods: A baseline SCAT was completed during preseason medical evaluation. Subjects were grouped as follows: all participants, men, women, never concussed (NC) and previously concussed (PC).
Main results: The mean age of participants was 20.5 years (range 17-32). In total, 41.2% of all athletes had a total post-concussion symptom scale (PCSS) score of 0. The mean baseline PCSS scores were as follows: all participants 4.29; men 3.52; women 6.39; NC 3.75 and PC 5.25. The five most frequently reported symptoms for all athletes were fatigue/low energy (37% of subjects), drowsiness (23%), neck pain (20%), difficulty concentrating (18%) and difficulty remembering (18%). The median immediate recall score was 5/5 for all groups. Women scored a median of 5/5 on delayed recall, whereas all remaining groups scored a median of 4/5. Months in reverse order were successfully completed by 91.6% of subjects. All participants, women and PC scored a median of 6 on reverse digits, whereas men and NC scored a median of 5.
Conclusions: The mean SCAT baseline PCSS score was approximately 5, although just under half of the athletes scored 0. Female athletes scored better on tests of neurocognitive function. PC athletes scored better than NC athletes on all neurocognitive tests except delayed five-word recall.