Female collegiate soccer and lacrosse athletes are subject to repetitive subconcussive head impacts; defined as “cranial impacts that do not result in known or diagnosed concussion on clinical grounds.” These impacts may result in vestibulo-oculomotor (V-O) system dysfunction. Identifying V-O dysfunction is critical in order to better understand the potential consequences of these impacts.
Retrospectively examine four years of pilot data to:
- Describe the evolution of an assessment battery for cleared to play athletes.
- Identify the assessment tools most frequently positive in cleared to play athletes and non-athletes.
- Provide direction for clinical practice and future research endeavors.
- 60 Division II female soccer and lacrosse players: 35 soccer, 25 lacrosse
- 21 non-athletes (2 years)
Each year tests were retained or discontinued depending on their evaluative strength. Alternate tests were added to capture a given or different domain. The following shows the evolution of assessments (additions bolded):
- Year One: non-instrumental (clinical) Dynamic Visual Acuity (cDVA), Head Impulse Test (HIT), Head Shake Nystagmus Test (HSN), Y-Balance Test, Balance Error Scoring System (BESS)
- Year Two: cDVA, HIT, HSN, Y-Balance Test, BESS, Near Point Convergence (NPC)
- Year Three: cDVA, NPC, HIT, HSN, Trail-Making Test (TMT) A and B
- Year Four: cDVA, NPC, TMT, 40-yard dash with and without head turns, T-agility Test
- Difference in V-O system function in athletes compared to non-athletes in first two years of data collection: 14/21 athletes had at least one positive test; 1/25 non-athletes had at least one positive test
- The cDVA and the NPC tests were most frequently positive tests across four years
- Repeat participants showed signs of V-O system dysfunction based on cDVA an NPC testing
- No significant results found with cognition, balance, or performance testing
- Athletes had a much higher incidence of positive V-O tests than non-athletes
- Over half of cleared to play athletes had a positive V-O test; cDVA and NPC most frequently positive
- Highly trained athletes may require more challenging and sensitive assessment tools to identify cognitive and performance deficits
- Many cleared to play female collegiate athletes may be playing in the presence of V-O deficits
- Using specific V-O assessments may better identify athletes with V-O dysfunction and lead to subsequent treatment intervention
- Continued research needed to develop an optimal assessment battery to guide baseline, return to play, and intervention decisions
Dowdal-Osborn, Megan PT, PhD; Luken, Elijah; McMahon, Elizabeth; Morrisette, Elena; and Paust, Jacob, "Determining Optimal Assessment Battery for Collegiate Soccer and Lacrosse Athletes Experiencing Frequent Repetitive Head Impacts" (2021). DPT Capstone Posters. 7.