UWMed: Cognitive test is poor predictor of athletes’ concussion

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Drs. Kimberly Harmon and John O'Kane (left) monitor players' health at a UW Huskies football game. UW Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

Part of the NCAA’s standardized concussion evaluation failed to distinguish athletes who were actually injured, a study shows.

When college athletes are evaluated for a possible concussion, the diagnosis is based on an athletic trainer or team physician’s assessment of three things: the player’s symptoms, physical balance and cognitive skills.

Research published today suggests that almost half of athletes who are ultimately diagnosed with a concussion will test normally on the recommended cognitive-skills assessment.

“If you don’t do well on the cognitive exam, it suggests you have a concussion. But many people who are concussed do fine on the exam,” said Dr. Kimberly Harmon, the study’s lead author. She is a professor of family medicine and section head of sports medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The findings appear in JAMA Network Open. More information on their news release 


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