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.