Neurocognitive Testing More Accurate than Self-Reporting When Assessing Concussion Recovery in Cheerleaders

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Neurocognitive Testing More Accurate than Self-Reporting When Assessing Concussion Recovery in Cheerleaders

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Neurocognitive Testing More Accurate than Self-Reporting When Assessing Concussion Recovery in Cheerleaders
Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 9:30am

CONTENT: Press Release

Cincinnati, OH, August 8, 2013 /3BL Media/ – Concussions have become a major public health issue, with both short- and long-term side effects.  In sports, cheerleading has the highest rate of catastrophic injury, with some studies reporting approximately 6% of total injuries as concussions. Return-to-play guidelines have relied on athletes’ self-reports; however, this has led to concerns about the ability of athletes to truly recognize their own symptoms and recovery. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers evaluate the accuracy of neurocognitive testing compared with self-reported symptoms of concussions in cheerleaders.

In the study, 138 junior and senior high school cheerleaders with concussions underwent pre-season baseline neurocognitive testing and completed at least one follow-up evaluation within 7 days of injury using Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT). According to Dr. Mark R. Lovell and a colleague from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, “We hypothesized that the use of ImPACT would result in an increased capacity to detect and measure post-concussive abnormalities in cheerleaders compared with symptom assessment alone.” All concussions were diagnosed by a physician, athletic trainer, or other school health care official who was present at the time of injury.

Overall, 62% of the cheerleaders reported an increase in symptoms after a concussion (e.g., headache, nausea, and dizziness) compared with their baseline. Of the cheerleaders who denied an increase in concussion symptoms from baseline, 33% had at least one ImPACT score that exceeded index criteria. This means that these cheerleaders reported their symptoms inaccurately, overestimated their recovery, or were unaware of their decreased neurocognitive performance.

The results show that the addition of a neurocognitive assessment could be a useful tool to evaluate when cheerleaders with concussion have returned to normalized baseline measures. They also support the idea that self-reported symptoms and decreased neurocognitive test scores after concussion may differ. According to co-author Dr. Gary Solomon, “It is common knowledge that athletes may at times minimize or deny symptoms after injury to avoid being removed from competition.” Treating physicians should be cautious to return athletes to play based solely on self-reported symptoms.


Notes for Editors
“Neurocognitive Test Performance and Symptom Reporting in Cheerleaders with Concussions,” by Mark R. Lovell, Ph.D., and Gary S. Solomon, Ph.D., appears in The Journal of Pediatrics (, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.05.061, published by Elsevier.

About The Journal of Pediatrics
The Journal of Pediatrics is a primary reference for the science and practice of pediatrics and its subspecialties. This authoritative resource of original, peer-reviewed articles oriented toward clinical practice helps physicians stay abreast of the latest and ever-changing developments in pediatric medicine. The Journal of Pediatrics is ranked 4th out of 121 pediatric medical journals (2012 Journal Citation Reports®, published by Thomson Reuters). URL:

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, Reaxys, ClinicalKey and Mosby’s Suite, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, helping research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group plc, a world leading provider of professional information solutions. The group employs more than 30,000 people, including more than 15,000 in North America. Reed Elsevier Group plc is owned equally by two parent companies, Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. Their shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RUK and ENL.

Media contact
Becky Lindeman
+1 513 636 7140

Keywords: Research & Policy | Elsevier | Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing | Neurocognitive Testing | The Journal of Pediatrics | concussion recovery | concussion symptoms | injury | neurocognitive assessment | school healthcare | sports-related concussion

CONTENT: Press Release