For this study, the researchers sent out a survey about their protocols and how they assess concussions. The researchers found that 95% educated their athletes, 97% had RTP protocols, and 98% obtained the previous concussion history. However, only 63% had return-to-learn (RTL) protocols. Overall only 44% of respondents complied with “recommendations for pre-participation assessments that included concussion history, neurocognitive testing, balance testing, and symptom checklist.” This large proportion of non-compliance with the recommendations was due to the lack of use of the balance testing. Furthermore, while D1 universities had the highest compliance rate (55%) the D2 and D3 institutions had considerably lower rates of compliance (38% D2, 36% D3).
This study has some areas that may be worrying, however, it also shows us where we can improve our efforts. The most beneficial area that could come out of this piece of research is a standardization of return to learn protocols. A standardization could help the approximately 37% of institutions that do not currently have a RTL policy. Furthermore, additional research investigating how reliable neurocognitive testing and balance testing are with predicting where a patient is in the recovery process will allow us to better use those tools to our advantage and return them to daily life.
You can find this research article in full here.