Dr. Chris Abeare, associate professor at the University of Windsor, is warning that invalid concussion baseline testing could see athletes returning to gameplay before they are fully recovered.Dr. Chris Abeare, associate professor at the University of Windsor, is warning that invalid concussion baseline testing could see athletes returning to gameplay before they are fully recovered.

Troubled testing: UWindsor prof warns concussion testing for young athletes may be flawed

Many young athletes who have suffered a concussion may be at risk of returning to play too early because of invalid baseline testing, warns a University of Windsor professor.

Psychology associate professor Chris Abeare recently completed a study of 7,897 athletes between 10 and 21-years-old and found that 55.7 per cent failed at least one of four validity measures, suggesting that their baseline test scores are lower than their actual cognitive ability.

“This puts them in danger because their brain is likely not recovered fully,” said Dr. Abeare, who completed the study with Bradley Merker, Department of Behavioral Health at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit; Laszlo Erdodi, a faculty member in the psychology department; and clinical neuropsychology graduate students Isabelle Messa and Brandon Zuccato.

“Therefore, they are more susceptible to sustaining another injury which could have more prolonged symptoms.”

Baseline testing includes a number of neurocognitive measures administered to athletes in the pre-season. These test scores are meant to provide a reference point in the event of future injury.

If an athlete does not perform their best on the baseline test, either knowingly or unknowingly, that creates an invalid performance. If that athlete then suffers a concussion, the threshold for recovery is set much lower and they may return to play before they are fully recovered.

“It’s alarming. If over half of athletes are not giving their best performance then it really points to a significant problem in this whole endeavour of baseline testing,” Abeare said. “Baseline testing can be extremely useful, but we just need to be certain that it is.”

Because such a large sample size was examined, Abeare said he was able to break down the findings to see if invalid performance varied by age.

“It ended up being even more dramatic than we had suspected, with our youngest group of 10-year-olds having a base rate of failure of 83.6 per cent,” Abeare said.

“Our older athletes, at 21-years-old, had 29.2 per cent rate of failure. So, we found basically an inverse relationship between age and failure rate.”

This is especially important, Abeare said, because younger athletes suffer concussions more easily and take longer to recover.

“There are a variety of reasons, but their brains are not fully developed, and their neck muscles are not as developed to absorb the G-force as well as a full-grown adult,” he said. “They are more likely to have a prolonged recovery and that makes it even more critical we pay attention to their baseline scores.”

Abeare said there are a number of factors why younger athletes may have a higher rate of baseline failure.

“I’m speculating a bit, but younger athletes may not care to do the test, they may be more inattentive, and they find it boring,” he said.

Recently, a version of the test has been developed for children which utilizes one-on-one analysis with an iPad.

“The test will then be more interactive and engaging, but also changes the way it is currently administered,” Abeare said.

“These are group administered, so you can only imagine having 10 or 15 10-year-olds in a room.”

Moving forward, Abeare said the next step will be to compare the prevalence rates of invalid performance identified by the four measures in this study with those of other more well established performance validity measures.

“We have a bunch performance ability tests that have been well established and work,” he said. “So, the next steps are to look at performance validity in athletes and baseline testing using these other tests that have been well established.”

He said practitioners should also be mindful of the validity of baseline scores against which they are making comparisons to determine if an athlete has recovered from a concussion.

“We recommend using all four validity algorithms to give practitioners a better sense of the validity of the baseline test performance,” Abeare said.

“Failure on any one of them is a reason for some concern, but failure on two or more is certainly reason for concern.”

The study, Prevalence of Invalid Performance on Baseline Testing for Sport-Related Concussion by Age and Validity Indicator, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Neurology on March 12.

Dylan Kristy

Yanji NieYanji Nie, a student in the Master of Applied Economics and Policy program, gives a presentation in the business communication class.

Economics program enhances business communication skills

The Master of Applied Economics and Policy (MAEP) program has more than doubled in size since its 2015 inception, and Nurlan Turdaliev, head of the Department of Economics, thinks he knows why.

“This program has been gaining popularity due to its unique feature — it is designed to bridge theory, policy, and business,” says Dr. Turdaliev.

To earn a MAEP degree, students must finish 13 courses within 16 months, or four semesters. The 13 courses include five core economics theory courses, seven selective courses ranging from public finance, monetary policy to economic analysis of law, and a business communication course.

“When we designed the program in 2015, we wanted to offer students something different from our traditional MA program,” says professor Jay Rhee, director of the MAEP program.

“On one hand, MAEP allows students to learn fundamental economic theory and its policy implications. On the other hand, the program offers students a chance to get a touch of business practice in the real world.”

The business communication course is organized differently from the other regular courses: it is broken into four modules spread throughout the four terms.

“This course emphasizes the different forms of communication that will occur in the business world,” says instructor Chris Lanoue. “The goal is to prepare all of the students for their future careers, from career search to presentation skills.

Lanoue says MAEP students are incredibly eager and look forward to class participation. Before presenting case studies during his course, one of his students told him they really like his course and were hoping to be the first that evening to present.

“This course will prepare us better when job opportunities arise,” says Rinado Magumba-Mufu, an MAEP student.

Falafel wrapped in pitaFalafel on pita is one of the representative dishes of Mideast cuisine on offer Tuesday in the student centre Marketplace.

Marketplace menu going multicultural

Patrons of the Marketplace food outlet will have a chance to circle the globe during lunch this week without ever leaving the CAW Student Centre.

Lunchtime menus are going multicultural to coincide with Thursday’s Celebration of Nations festival.

On offer Tuesday, March 13, is Middle Eastern cuisine: chicken shawarma, beef shawarma fries, a vegetarian Mideast sampler, or a falafel pita wrap.

Wednesday, March 14, is dedicated to Thai food: pad krapow with fried basil and pork, gaen keow wan kai green chicken curry, a tofu stir-fry, or vegetarian pad thai noodles.

Traditional Nigerian dishes take place of honour on Thursday, March 15: Nigerian tomato stew, barbecue chicken drumsticks, jollof rice, or vegetarian bean and plantain porridge.

All these dishes will be served from the hotline station, open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

hand scatching ticket covered with cloversThe Campus Bookstore is offering its customers savings of 10 and 25 per cent Wednesday, March 14.

Campus Bookstore discount to have clients in clover

The Campus Bookstore will have its patrons dancing an Irish jig Wednesday, with a scratch-and-save sale to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

“Since we’ll be closed for St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on Saturday this year, we decided to give an early discount to our loyal customers,” says marketing co-ordinator Martin Deck. “Come on in to learn whether you have the luck of the Irish!”

Customers will scratch cards to earn discounts of between 10 and 25 per cent on almost everything in the store, excluding textbooks and course materials, computers, gift cards, special orders, and already-discounted merchandise.

The Campus Bookstore is located on the lower level of the CAW Student Centre, open Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.