Objectives While the rate of sport-related concussion is increasing, more effective tools are needed to help monitor the diagnosis and return to play of athletes. The three-dimensional multiple-object tracking (3D-MOT) exercise is a perceptual-cognitive task that has shown predictive power towards the dynamic requirements of real-world activities such as sport. This study introduced the use of the 3D-MOT task, along with the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and Modified Balance Error Scoring System (M-BESS) tests, for diagnosis and return to play in professional sports.
Methods Fifty-nine professional athletes were tested with the 3D-MOT, SAC and M-BESS tests at 48 hours following the injury. The same measures were employed to evaluate the return to play following the standard concussion management protocol. The SAC and M-BESS tests were also performed in pre-season (baseline) in 32 out of the 59 athletes.
Results The injured athletes exhibited poor performance on 3D-MOT at 48 hours post injury compared with return to play (p<0.001) as well as compared with healthy professionals’ performance scores (p<0.001). Importantly, learning rate, which participants are thought to have an expert advantage on this perceptual-cognitive task, was totally disrupted at 48 hours post injury compared with healthy professionals (p<0.001). The 3D-MOT performance was also correlated to the total number of symptoms (p=0.020), SAC (p=0.031) and M-BESS (p=0.004) scores at 48 hours. Not surprisingly, SAC and M-BESS tests’ usefulness for monitoring concussion was found to be weak, particularly when test performance following the injury was compared to baseline (p=0.056 and 0.349 for SAC and M-BESS, respectively).
Conclusion 3D-MOT could help monitor sport-related concussion in professional athletes. The discussion also covers the critical importance of perceptual-cognitive assessment following concussion in the athletic population.
- sporting injuries
- return to play
- perceptual-cognitive skills
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Contributors JFC, JF and FM participated to the study design. JFC and FM conducted the tests. TR conducted the analysis and wrote the manuscript with JF.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests JF is director of Faubert Lab at the University of Montreal and he is the Chief Science Officer of CogniSens Inc. who produces the commercial version of the NeuroTracker used in this study. In this capacity, he holds shares in the company.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Comité d’éthique de la recherche en santé de l’université de Montréal.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement Data are available by contacting the corresponding author.
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