In recent years, health professionals have been promoting baseline testing as a mandatory or recommended practice to improve the care of athletes with a suspected concussion. A baseline test is done on an athlete prior to participating in sport. The athlete completes a series of concussion assessments which provide a baseline for physiological measurements that can be compared to assessments done post-injury in the event of a suspected concussion.
As outlined by Parachute, the national organization dedicated to injury prevention, “Baseline testing using any tool or combination of tools is not required to provide post-injury care of those who sustain a suspected or diagnosed concussion, and mandatory pre-season testing is not recommended. In general, current evidence does not support a significant added benefit of baseline testing athletes. This includes the Child SCAT5 and the SCAT5 tools, as well as neuropsychological and neurocognitive tests, both computerized or not.”
Each concussion is unique. Management of a concussion and return-to-sport decisions should be made on an individualized basis, not by using one specific test or group of tests.
Parachute acknowledges that there may be some athlete populations and sport environments where baseline testing may still be recommended; for example, baseline neurocognitive or neuropsychological testing may be considered for athletes who have pre-existing conditions that could impact how post-injury tests are interpreted, such as learning disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or history of previous concussion.
For more information, read the full statement on baseline testing.