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Performance on auditory, vestibular, and visual tests is stable across two seasons of youth tackle football

White-Schwoch, T.; Krizman, J.; McCracken, K.; Burgess, J. K.; Thompson, E. C.; Nicol, T.; LaBella, C. R.; Kraus, N.

Brain Inj. 2019 Oct 30; 34(2):236-244

Abstract

Objective: Few studies have tracked neurologic function in youth football players longitudinally. This study aimed to determine whether changes in tests of auditory, vestibular, and/or visual functions are evident after participation in one or two seasons of youth tackle football.Study Design: Prospective cohort study.Subjects and Methods: Before their 2017 and/or 2018 seasons, male tackle football players (ages 7-14 yrs) completed three tests that tend to exhibit acute disruptions following a concussion: (1) the FFR (frequency-following response), aphysiologic test of auditory function, (2) the BESS (Balance Error Scoring System), a test of vestibular function, and (3) the King-Devick, a test of oculomotor function. We planned to repeat these on all subjects at the end of each season.Results: Performance on neurosensory tests was stable, with no changes observed in FFR or King-Devick and a slight improvement observed in BESS performance across each season. Performance was also stable over two years for the subjects who participated both years. Across-season test-retest reliability correlations were high.Conclusions: In the absence of concussion, young athletes' performance on the FFR, King-Devick, and BESS is stable across one or two seasons of youth tackle football.

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