What tests and measures should be added to the SCAT3 and related tests to improve their reliability, sensitivity and/or specificity in sideline concussion diagnosis? A systematic review

Br J Sports Med. 2017 Jun;51(11):895-901. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097466.


Objectives: Several iterations of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) have been published over the past 16 years. Our goal was to systematically review the literature related to the SCAT and provide recommendations for improving the tool. To achieve this goal, five separate but related searches were conducted and presented herein.

Design: Systematic literature review.

Data sources: Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, SPORTDiscus and PubMed.

Eligibility criteria: Original, empirical, peer-reviewed findings published in English and included sports-related concussion (SRC). Review papers, case studies, editorials and conference proceedings/abstracts were excluded. The age range for the ChildSCAT was 5-12 years and for the Adult SCAT was 13 years and above.

Results: Out of 2961 articles screened, a total of 96 articles were included across the five searches. Searches were not mutually exclusive. The final number of articles included in the qualitative synthesis for each search was 21 on Adult SCAT, 32 on ChildSCAT, 21 on sideline, 8 on video/observation and 14 on oculomotor.

Summary/conclusions: The SCAT is the most widely accepted and deployable sport concussion assessment and screening tool currently available. There is some degree of support for using the SCAT2/SCAT3 and ChildSCAT3 in the evaluation of SRC, with and without baseline data. The addition of an oculomotor examination seems indicated, although the most valid method for assessing oculomotor function is not clear. Video-observable signs of concussion show promise, but there is insufficient evidence to warrant widespread use at this time.

Keywords: assessment; head trauma; preseason baseline testing; signs and symptoms; sports; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sports Medicine / methods*