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Comparison of SCAT-3 Baseline Testing and P300 ERP between Seasons in University Football Players

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Contact sport teams require their athletes to undergo baseline concussion testing for comparison to their post-concussion results. The standard test during this study was the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-3rd edition (SCAT-3). Clinically used for return to play procedure, most athletes return to baseline scores 8-10 days’ post-concussion. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive means of measuring the electro-physiological function of the brain. EEGs are the summative measure of Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) which are measures of brain activity after a specific event. P300 is an example of an ERP that is commonly used as a neurocognitive marker in concussion research. P300 can be further broken down into P3a and P3b, which relate to attention and decision making respectively. Using this technique, lasting functional deficits, beyond those that are highlighted on the SCAT-3 scores, have been noted. This study aims to evaluate the effect subconcussive impacts (SCI) have on SCAT-3 and electrophysiology from one season to the next in Canadian University football players over two seasons. Participants underwent standard SCAT-3 and EEG baseline testing at the beginning of two subsequent seasons. The EEG tests consist of two 5-minute baseline periods with eyes open and closed, followed by a 10-minute session collecting event-related potentials using a three-stimulus Oddball paradigm. Players mean scores showed increases in both number of symptoms (1±4.08) and symptom severity (1.9±6.6). Mean P3a and P3b latencies increased. Additionally, mean amplitudes decreased for both P3a and P3b. University Football players show physiological defects from accumulated SCI during a season. These deficits may accumulate each successive season without resolution. Due to their slow onset, evaluations of these changes are difficult identity. EEG measurements are sensitive to small changes in function and serve as an ideal tool to measure these changes. The SCAT-3 is less sensitive to these minor changes but still has value since it can be used acutely in sideline assessment of concussion.

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