A pilot project to investigate a novel computerized concussion assessment tool for use in the emergency department and other outpatient settings

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Skinner, Jennifer
Concussion , Mild Brain Injury , Head Injury , Computerized Assessments , Emergency Department , Sport Injuries
Background: There is currently no standard method of diagnosing the presence or severity of concussion in acute primary care settings. This pilot project is part of a larger study to develop a Computerized Concussion Assessment Tool (CCAT). Methods: A prospective observational clinical study was conducted to explore the validity of the CCAT among patients presenting to the Emergency Department at Kingston General Hospital and at Hotel Dieu Hospital (Kingston, Ontario) with minor head injury. Twenty-two patients with concussion and eighteen patients with head injury (but not diagnosed with concussion) were recruited to the study. All participants completed a background questionnaire, several neurocognitive tests and the CCAT assessment. Performance on the CCAT was compared between these two groups. Data collected during the development phase of the CCAT from a Normal Volunteers group (n=68) were used in an additional comparison. CCAT Scores for Selective Attention, Divided Attention and Memory were compared with standard neurocognitive tests through correlational analyses. In addition, the validity and clinical yield of the CCAT were investigated relative to gold standard measures. Results: After adjustment for covariates, no statistically significant differences were found between the three participant groups for any of the three primary CCAT Scores (Selective Attention, Divided Attention and Memory). Correlational analyses showed that the CCAT Selective Attention Score and the CCAT Memory Score are moderately correlated with standard neurocognitive tests. There was no correlation observed for the CCAT Divided Attention Score and its associated neurocognitive test. Conclusion: The CCAT was unable to discriminate between concussed patients and non-concussed individuals. However, moderate correlations observed between the CCAT Scores for Memory and Selective Attention and their respective neurocognitive tests support a view that there should be optimism for the future development of the CCAT. Issues related to the feasibility of the study and its administration in the emergency department setting are discussed.
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