Just out in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine is Richard Weiler's paper on differences in Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT3) scores between athletes with and without disability. The SCAT3 provides a freely accessible internationally recognised tool, supported by many sports governing bodies, and describes itself as “the standardised tool for evaluating injured athletes for concussion.” The tool is recommended without further specification to be used for all athletes from the age of 13 years onwards, and makes no inferences on usability for athletes with disability.
However, it is questionable whether the SCAT3 is appropriate to be used for athlete with a disability. As such, the aim of this study was to determine whether differences exist between baseline SCAT3 scores for footballers with and without disability.
Team doctors and physiotherapists supporting England football teams recorded players’ SCAT 3 baseline tests from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014. This results in a convenience sample of 249 England footballers, of whom 185 were players without disability (male: 119; female: 66) and 64 were players with disability (male learning disability: 17; male cerebral palsy: 28; male blind: 10; female deaf: 9). From these data a cross-sectional between-group comparison was made of median SCAT3 total and section scores.
- All footballers with disability scored higher symptom severity scores compared with male players without disability.
- Male footballers with learning disability demonstrate no significant difference in the total number of symptoms, but recorded significantly lower scores on immediate memory and delayed recall compared with male players without disability.
- Male blind footballers’ scored significantly higher for total concentration and delayed recall, and male footballers with cerebral palsy scored significantly higher on balance testing and immediate memory, when compared with male players without disability.
- Female footballers with deafness scored significantly higher for total concentration and balance testing than female footballers without disability.
This study showed that significant differences exist between SCAT3 baseline section scores for footballers with and without disability. Concussion consensus guidelines should recognise these differences and produce guidelines that are specific for the growing number of athletes living with disability.
Weiler R, van Mechelen W, Fuller C, Ahmed OH, Verhagen E. Do Neurocognitive SCAT3 Baseline Test Scores Differ Between Footballers (Soccer) Living With and Without Disability? A Cross-Sectional Study. Clin J Sport Med. 2017 Jan 17.