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Baseline concussion assessment performance by sex in military service academy rugby players: findings from the CARE Consortium


Background Normative student-athlete concussion assessment data may not be appropriate for service academy members (SAMs), particularly rugby players, because of the uniqueness of their academic/military training environment. Having accurate baseline data for this population is important because of their high risk for concussion and frequent lack of assigned sports medicine professional. The primary purpose of this study was to characterise baseline performance on a concussion assessment battery, with secondary purpose to determine effect of sex and concussion history on these measures among SAM rugby players.

Methods 601 rugby-playing SAMs (19.3±1.5 years, 37.9% female) completed baseline concussion assessments: the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) Symptom and Symptom Severity Checklist, Standard Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and a neuropsychological test (either ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) or ANAM (Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics)). Groups were compared using an independent samples t-test or Mann-Whitney U test. A 2 (sex) × 2 (concussion history) ANOVA was conducted to determine the effects of sex and concussion history on outcomes.

Results Women reported greater SCAT total symptoms (3.3 vs 2.8, p<0.001, r=0.143) and symptom severities (5.7 vs 4.3, p<0.001, r=0.139), and performed worse on ImPACT Visual Memory (79.3 vs 82.6, p=0.002, r=0.144) than men. Women performed better than men on SAC (28.0 vs 27.7, p=0.03, r=0.088), ImPACT Reaction Time Composite (0.59 vs 0.61, p=0.04, r=0.092) and ANAM Code Substitution Delayed (64.3 vs 61.5, p=0.04, d=0.433). Individuals with a history of concussion reported lower ImPACT Symptom Severity (2.6 vs 4.2, p=0.02, r=0.110). There was no interaction between concussion history and sex on outcomes.

Conclusions These findings provide reference data for SAM rugby players on baseline assessments and to help in clinical decision-making when managing sports-related concussion in absence of baseline data.

  • sports medicine
  • neurology
  • neurological injury

Data availability statement

No data are available. Data will be shared via requests to the lead author, KJH, pending approval by the NCAA-DoD CARE Consortium data core approval.

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