Preliminary Use of the Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs for Detecting Subtle Motor Signs in Adolescents With Sport-Related Concussion

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Abstract

Sensitive examination tools are needed to optimize evaluation after sports-related concussion. The Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs was preliminarily examined for sensitivity to motor changes in a pilot cohort of adolescents aged 13–17 yrs with sports-related concussion. A total of 15 adolescents (5 female adolescents) with sports-related concussion were evaluated up to three times: within 2 wks of injury, approximately 1 mo later (mean, 35 days between visits), and for those not recovered at the second visit, again after clinical recovery (mean, 70 days between the first and last visits for all participants). Comparison data were acquired from 20 age- and sex-matched healthy control athletes with no history of concussion who were evaluated twice (mean, 32 days apart). Main effects of group, time, and interaction effects were evaluated with an analysis of covariance, which controlled for socioeconomic status, times tested, and days between testing sessions. Adolescents with concussion had poorer Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs performance than controls did at all time points. Performance improved between visits within the concussion group, with no change within the control group. These findings suggest that the Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs merits additional study in larger cohorts and in combination with other markers of injury to facilitate an enhanced understanding of sports-related concussion and recovery.

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