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The importance of pre-season baseline evaluations in concussion management

Findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) in San Diego supporting the need for baseline concussion testing at the beginning of the sports season for all youth athletes.

Individual concussion baselines need to be created for young athletes at the start of a playing season for them to be accurately diagnosed and treated if they suffer a concussion during the season, researchers report.

The investigators also noted that the sex of the players affects the scores on a standardized concussion assessment tool.

The study included 1,134 high school athletes in the Phoenix area who completed a brief questionnaire regarding their concussion history and were given a score based on the new Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-2 (SCAT2).

There were 872 males and 262 females, average age 15, included in the study. The predominant sports were football for the males and volleyball for the females.

Females scored significantly higher than males on the SCAT2 total score, and athletes with a prior history of concussion scored much lower on the SCAT2 than those with no history of concussion.

"Our results showed that otherwise healthy adolescent athletes do display some variability in results so establishing each player's own baseline before the season starts and then comparing it to test results following a concussion leads to more accurate diagnosis and treatment," study author Dr. Anikar Chhabra, of the Orthopaedic Clinic Association in Phoenix according to an AOSSM news release.

"This data provides the first insight into how the SCAT2 scores can be used and interpreted as a sideline concussion tool and as an initial baseline analysis. With concussions accounting for approximately 9 percent of all high school athletic injuries, accurately utilizing assessments like these to quickly determine an athlete's return-to-play probability is critical to long-term athletic and educational performance," Chhabra said.

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