Aim: Neurosensory tests have emerged as components of sport-related concussion management. Limited normative data are available in healthy, nonconcussed youth athletes.

Patients & methods/results: In 2017 and 2018, we tested 108 youth tackle football players immediately before their seasons on the frequency-following response, Balance Error Scoring System, and King-Devick test. We compared results with published data in older and/or and nonathlete populations. Performance on all tests improved with age. Frequency-following response and Balance Error Scoring System results aligned with socioeconomic status. Performance was not correlated across neurosensory domains.

Conclusion: Baseline neurosensory functions in seven 14-year-old male tackle football players are consistent with previously published data. Results reinforce the need for individual baselines or demographic-specific norms and the use of multiple neurosensory measures in sport-related concussion management.

Lay abstract

Previous studies have shown that tests of neurosensory function, including hearing, balance, and vision, tend to be abnormal in children and adults with a sports-related concussion. Little data are available on how youth athletes perform on these tests when they are healthy. Here we report male youth football players’ preseason performance on three tests of neurosensory function. Performance at baseline is generally consistent with previous reports in older children and/or nonathlete populations, supporting the use of these assessments when evaluating an athlete for a sports-related concussion. However, performance varies with age and socioeconomic status, reinforcing the need for an individual preinjury baseline or careful, demographic-specific norms for comparison. Performance was not correlated across neurosensory domains, supporting the use of multiple measures in concussion evaluation and management.