Why is the computerized neurocognitive baseline testing discontinued in athletes?
Answer: Recent research on computerized neurocognitive baseline testing shows that it barely meets the sensitivity and specificity to be a reliable test. Also, it is done in a group setting often causing the athlete to be distracted. Also the motivation to take the baseline test is not the same as taking the post-injury test when the athletes know they have to pass as part of the return to play protocol.
Will the post-injury computerized neurocognitive tests still be done?
Answer: There may be times that the post-injury test will be done in certain circumstances which will be left up to the discretion of the treating MD.
Is neurocognitive testing necessary when evaluating an athlete after a concussion?
Answer: Almost all athletes recover from a concussion without any side effects. However, in some instances where recovery is delayed or pre-existing conditions complicate the post injury course a more specific form of neurocognitive testing may be required. There is presently ongoing research to develop the best and most valid neurocognitive testing for concussions.
Are there any instances where a computerized neurocognitive baseline test would be done?
Answer: Pre-existing conditions such as a learning disability and sometimes ADD/ADHD might be necessary to have a baseline to compare to a post-injury test, again that would be at the discretion of the physician.
If the NFL and college athletics are still using the computerized neurocognitive baseline testing, why aren’t middle school and high school athletes being tested?
Answer: The governing body for the NFL and college athletics (NCAA) establish their own practices. In the NFL a hybrid baseline test which is not computerized is being compared to the ImPACT to decide which is the better test. The NCAA is still using computerized cognitive testing but we suspect that will change when data is reported from a very large concussion study funded by NCAA and DOD.
As an athletic director, what should I do next in regards to computerized baseline neurocognitive testing?
Answer: The letter from the ISCA is only a recommendation. We suggest that you speak directly with your sports medicine team (AT & Physician) to determine if your school will make any changes to your current concussion management protocols.