Background: Current assessment tools for sport-related concussion are limited by a reliance on subjective interpretation and patient symptom reporting. Robotic assessments may provide more objective and precise measures of neurological function than traditional clinical tests.
Objective: To determine the reliability of assessments of sensory, motor and cognitive function conducted with the KINARM end-point robotic device in young adult elite athletes.
Methods: Sixty-four randomly selected healthy, young adult elite athletes participated. Twenty-five individuals (25 M, mean age±SD, 20.2±2.1 years) participated in a within-season study, where three assessments were conducted within a single season (assessments labeled by session: S1, S2, S3). An additional 39 individuals (28M; 22.8±6.0 years) participated in a year-to-year study, where annual pre-season assessments were conducted for three consecutive seasons (assessments labeled by year: Y1, Y2, Y3). Forty-four parameters from five robotic tasks (Visually Guided Reaching, Position Matching, Object Hit, Object Hit and Avoid, and Trail Making B) and overall Task Scores describing performance on each task were quantified.
Results: Test-retest reliability was determined by intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) between the first and second, and second and third assessments. In the within-season study, ICCs were ≥0.50 for 68% of parameters between S1 and S2, 80% of parameters between S2 and S3, and for three of the five Task Scores both between S1 and S2, and S2 and S3. In the year-to-year study, ICCs were ≥0.50 for 64% of parameters between Y1 and Y2, 82% of parameters between Y2 and Y3, and for four of the five Task Scores both between Y1 and Y2, and Y2 and Y3.
Conclusions: Overall, the results suggest moderate-to-good test-retest reliability for the majority of parameters measured by the KINARM robot in healthy young adult elite athletes. Future work will consider the potential use of this information for clinical assessment of concussion-related neurological deficits.