Research Reports - Evaluating the recovery curve for clinically assessed reaction time after concussion

J Athl Train. 2017 Aug;52(8):766-770. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-52.6.02. Epub 2017
Jul 19.

Del Rossi G(1).

CONTEXT:   A change in reaction time is one of various clinical measures of
neurocognitive function that can be monitored after concussion and has been
reported to be among the most sensitive indicators of cognitive impairment.
OBJECTIVE:   To determine the timeline for clinically assessed simple reaction
time to return to baseline after a concussion in high school athletes.
DESIGN:   Observational study.
SETTING:   Athletic training room.
PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:   Twenty-one high school-aged volunteers.
INTERVENTION(S):   Participants completed 8 trials of the ruler-drop test during
each session. Along with baseline measures, a total of 6 additional test sessions
were completed over the course of 4 weeks after a concussion (days 3, 7, 10, 14,
21, and 28).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):   The mean reaction times calculated for all
participants from each of the 7 test sessions were analyzed to assess the change
in reaction time over the 7 time intervals.
RESULTS:   After a concussion and compared with baseline, simple reaction time
was, on average, 26 milliseconds slower at 48 to 72 hours postinjury (P < .001),
almost 18 milliseconds slower on day 7 (P < .001), and about 9 milliseconds
slower on day 10 (P < .001). Simple reaction time did not return to baseline
levels until day 14 postinjury.
CONCLUSIONS:   Clinically assessed simple reaction time appeared to return to
baseline levels within a timeframe that mirrors other measures of cognitive
performance (approximately 14 days). 

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