The sensitivity and specificity of clinical measures of sport concussion: Three tests are better than one

Jacob E. Resch, Cathleen N. Brown, Julianne Schmidt, Stephen N. Macciocchi, Damond Blueitt, C. Munro Cullum, Michael S. Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Context A battery of clinical measures of neurocognition, balance and symptoms has been recommended for the management of sport concussion (SC) but is based on variable evidence. Objective To examine the sensitivity and specificity of a battery of tests to assess SC in college athletes. Design Cross-sectional. Setting Research laboratory. Patients or other participants Division 1 athletes diagnosed with a SC (n=40) who were 20.2±1.60 years of age and 180.5±11.12 cm tall and healthy athletes (n=40) who were 19.0±0.93 years of age and 179.1±11.39 cm tall were enrolled. Intervention(s) Participants were administered Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT), the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) and the Revised Head Injury Scale (HIS-r) prior to and up to 24 h following injury between the 2004 and 2014 sport seasons. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated using predictive discriminant analyses (PDA) and clinical interpretation guidelines. Main outcome measures Outcome measures included baseline and postinjury ImPACT, SOT and HIS-r composite scores. Results Using PDA, each clinical measure's sensitivity ranged from 55.0% to 77.5% and specificity ranged from 52.5% to 100%. The test battery possessed a sensitivity and specificity of 80.0% and 100%, respectively. Using clinical interpretation guidelines, sensitivity ranged from 55% to 97.5% individually, and 100% when combined. Conclusions Our results support a multidimensional approach to assess SC in college athletes which correctly identified 80-100% of concussed participants as injured. When each test was evaluated separately, up to 47.5% of our sample was misclassified. Caution is warranted when using singular measures to manage SC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000012
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Concussion Assessment
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Neurocognitive
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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