Predictive Accuracy of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 and Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening, Individually and In Combination: A National Collegiate Athletic Association-Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium Analysis

Am J Sports Med. 2021 Mar;49(4):1040-1048. doi: 10.1177/0363546520988098. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Background: Vestibular and ocular symptoms in sport-related concussions are common. The Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening (VOMS) tool is a rapid, free, pen-and-paper tool that directly assesses these symptoms and shows consistent utility in concussion identification, prognosis, and management. However, a VOMS validation study in the acute concussion period of a large sample is lacking.

Purpose: To examine VOMS validity among collegiate student-athletes, concussed and nonconcussed, from the multisite National Collegiate Athletic Association-Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium. A secondary aim was to utilize multidimensional machine learning pattern classifiers to deduce the additive power of the VOMS in relation to components of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3).

Study design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Preseason and acute concussion assessments were analyzed for 419 student-athletes. Variables in the analysis included the VOMS, Balance Error Scoring System, Standardized Assessment of Concussion, and SCAT3 symptom evaluation score. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all tools, including Kolmogorov-Smirnov significance and Cohen d effect size. Correlations between tools were analyzed with Spearman r, and predictive accuracy was evaluated through an Ada Boosted Tree machine learning model's generated receiver operating characteristic curves.

Results: Total VOMS scores and SCAT3 symptom scores demonstrated significant increases in the acute concussion time frame (Cohen d = 1.23 and 1.06; P < .0001), whereas the Balance Error Scoring System lacked clinical significance (Cohen d = 0.17). Incorporation of VOMS into the full SCAT3 significantly boosted overall diagnostic ability by 4.4% to an area under the curve of 0.848 (P < .0001) and produced a 9% improvement in test sensitivity over the existing SCAT3 battery.

Conclusion: The results from this study highlight the relevance of the vestibular and oculomotor systems to concussion and the utility of the VOMS tool. Given the 3.8 million sports-related and 45,121 military-related concussions per year, the addition of VOMS to the SCAT3 is poised to identify up to an additional 304,000 athletes and 3610 servicemembers annually who are concussed, thereby improving concussion assessment and diagnostic rates. Health care providers should consider the addition of VOMS to their concussion assessment toolkits, as its use can positively affect assessment and management of concussions, which may ultimately improve outcomes for this complex and common injury.

Keywords: SCAT; VOMS; clinical assessment/grading scales; head injuries/concussion; oculomotor system; vestibular system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion* / diagnosis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sports*
  • Universities