To examine the influence of exercise and practice on the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3) and King-Devick (KD), and the association between mood, pain and SCAT3 symptom report.
Crossover repeated-measures design across two time periods (T1 & T2).
16 male and 14 female (Mage = 22.7 years, SDage = 3.6) moderately active non-contact sports athletes, randomly allocated to two groups.
An exercise protocol, consisting of five minutes each of skipping and running, was administered at T1 or T2: Group 1 (T1 Exercise present → T2 Exercise absent) and Group 2 (T1 Exercise absent → T2 Exercise present).
SCAT3 and KD.
Exercise did not influence SCAT3 or KD performance. Practice effects were shown on the KD [44.8 (7.4) vs. 41.2 (6.1), P = 0.001] but not on SCAT3 cognitive or physical assessments. Mood was positively correlated with symptom reporting, explaining 18.6% of the variance in SCAT3 symptom severity at T1 and 21.2% at T2. Most frequently reported symptoms were 'fatigue or low energy', 'feeling slowed down', 'difficulty concentrating' and 'nervous or anxious'. Pain showed no correlation with symptom reporting.
Study assists in validating the SCAT3 and KD as sideline assessments by demonstrating a level of robustness to the effects of exercise and practice. Findings suggest caution is needed when interpreting the SCAT3 in athletes with mood disturbance. This study highlights the need for further research into potential modifiers of SCAT3 performance, specifically mood disturbance.