Between-seasons test-retest reliability of clinically measured reaction time in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletes

J Athl Train. 2011 Jul-Aug;46(4):409-14. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-46.4.409.


Context: Reaction time is typically impaired after concussion. A clinical test of reaction time (RT(clin)) that does not require a computer to administer may be a valuable tool to assist in concussion diagnosis and management.

Objective: To determine the test-retest reliability of RTclinmeasured over successive seasons in competitive collegiate athletes and to compare these results with a computerized measure of reaction time (RT(comp)).

Design: Case series with repeated measures.

Setting: Preparticipation physical examinations for the football, women's soccer, and wrestling teams at a single university.

Patients or other participants: 102 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletes.

Intervention(s): The RT(clin) was measured using a measuring stick embedded in a weighted rubber disk that was released and caught as quickly as possible. The RT(comp) was measured using the simple reaction time component of CogState Sport.

Main outcome measure(s): Data were collected at 2 time points, 1 season apart, during preparticipation physical examinations. Outcomes were mean simple RT(clin) and RT(comp).

Results: The intraclass correlation coefficient estimates from season 1 to season 2 were 0.645 for RT(clin) (n = 102, entire sample) and 0.512 for RT(comp) (n = 62 athletes who had 2 consecutive valid baseline CogState Sport test sessions).

Conclusions: The test-retest reliability of RT(clin) over consecutive seasons compared favorably with that of a concurrently tested computerized measure of reaction time and with literature-based estimates of computerized reaction time measures. This finding supports the potential use of RT(clin) as part of a multifaceted concussion assessment battery. Further prospective study is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Humans
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results