Between-seasons test-retest reliability of clinically measured reaction time in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletes

October 30, 2014

Authors: James T Eckner, Jeffrey S Kutcher, James K Richardson

Journal: Journal of Athletic Training

DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-46.4.409

Year Published: 2011


Reaction time is typically impaired after concussion. A clinical test of reaction time (RT(clin)) that does not require a computer to administer may be a valuable tool to assist in concussion diagnosis and management.


To determine the test-retest reliability of RTclinmeasured over successive seasons in competitive collegiate athletes and to compare these results with a computerized measure of reaction time (RT(comp)).


Case series with repeated measures.


Preparticipation physical examinations for the football, women’s soccer, and wrestling teams at a single university.

Patients or Other Participants:

102 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletes.


The RT(clin) was measured using a measuring stick embedded in a weighted rubber disk that was released and caught as quickly as possible. The RT(comp) was measured using the simple reaction time component of CogState Sport.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Data were collected at 2 time points, 1 season apart, during preparticipation physical examinations. Outcomes were mean simple RT(clin) and RT(comp).


The intraclass correlation coefficient estimates from season 1 to season 2 were 0.645 for RT(clin) (n = 102, entire sample) and 0.512 for RT(comp) (n = 62 athletes who had 2 consecutive valid baseline CogState Sport test sessions).


The test-retest reliability of RT(clin) over consecutive seasons compared favorably with that of a concurrently tested computerized measure of reaction time and with literature-based estimates of computerized reaction time measures. This finding supports the potential use of RT(clin) as part of a multifaceted concussion assessment battery. Further prospective study is warranted.

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