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Assessment of Patients With Mild Concussion in the Emergency Department

Naunheim, Rosanne S. MD; Matero, David MD; Fucetola, Robert PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March-April 2008 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 116–122
doi: 10.1097/01.HTR.0000314530.30401.70

Objectives (1) to test the validity of the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) in characterizing the early evolution of concussion-related symptoms and mental status changes in the emergency department (ED) setting and (2) to compare it to the Conner's Continuous Performance Test 2nd Edition (CPT-II).

Design Prospective within-subject (repeated measures) design.

Participants Sixty-two persons with concussion (Glasgow Coma Scale = 15) and negative head computed tomographic scan results were examined on arrival in the ED and 3 and 6 hours later.

Setting A large urban, tertiary medical center ED.

Main Outcome Measures SAC; CPT-II; Post-Concussion Symptom Scale–Revised (PCS-R).

Results SAC and CPT-II scores improved significantly over the time course in the ED. Symptoms did not correlate with improvement, with many subjects complaining of headache or nausea after their scores improved. The average initial score on the SAC was 21 ± 5.4/30. Conclusion: The SAC appears sensitive to the acute changes following concussion. It may be a useful tool for clinicians in detecting mental status changes after a concussion, when Glasgow Coma Scale and radiologic findings are normal.

From the Division of Emergency Medicine (Dr Naunheim) and Department of Neurology (Dr Fucetola), Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo; and Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO (Dr Matero).

Corresponding author: Rosanne S. Naunheim, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 So Euclid Box 8072, St Louis, Mo 63110 (e-mail:

The paper was presented as an abstract at the National Society of Neurotrauma Meeting, November 10–11, 2005, Washington, DC.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.