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Sideline-Dropstick Test: A Simple Measure of Reaction Time To Help Identify Athletes With Possible Concussion?

Validated at college level, but studies of reliability for younger athletes are ongoing


Compare to baseline

The sideline-dropstick test may be administered on the sideline, though in our experience, we will commonly take the potentially concussed athlete to the training room to perform testing in a more controlled, less distracting environment than the sideline. We will compare their average performance on 8 drops with their baseline performance. We consider this measure of RT, along with the patient's performance on SCAT3 and BESS testing when determining whether the patient may have sustained a concussion or not. Impairment of RT (a performance worse than baseline) should be considered a potentially significant marker of having sustained a concussion.

Jim MacDonald is a physician specializing in pediatric sports medicine at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Family Medicine at the Ohio State University's School of Medicine and Nationwide. An Associate Editor of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, MacDonald is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is a member of Jim MacDonald of Nationwide Children's HospitalMomsTEAM Institute's Board of Advisors. He earned both his Bachelor's and Medical degrees from Harvard University, and his Masters in Public Health from The Ohio State University.  He did his pediatric sports medicine training at Boston Children's Hospital and was previously Team Physician at the University of California, Santa Cruz before coming to Columbus. 

As a clinical researcher Dr. MacDonald has received grant funding from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) and Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH). He has experience leading multidisciplinary teams in a variety of research projects investigating the diagnosis and management of pediatric sport-related concussions and in the use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in the evaluation of pediatric musculoskeletal injuries. His publications and interests also include work on Exercise-Deficit Dysfunction (EDD) in children, a precursor to childhood obesity.  Jim is the married father of ten-year old sports-active twins, a boy and a girl.


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