The goal of this study was to determine which variables assessed during an initial clinical evaluation for concussion are independently associated with time until symptom resolution among pediatric patients.
Data collected from a prospective clinical registry of pediatric patients with concussion were analyzed. The primary outcome variable was time from injury until symptom resolution. Predictor variables assessed within 10 days after injury included preinjury factors, Health and Behavior Inventory scores, headache severity, and balance, vestibular, and oculomotor test performances. The researchers used univariate Cox proportional models to identify potential predictors of symptom resolution time and constructed a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model in which total duration of concussion symptoms remained the outcome variable.
The sample consisted of 351 patients (33% female, mean age 14.6 ± 2.2 years, evaluated 5.6 ± 2.6 days after concussion). Univariate Cox proportional hazards models indicated that several variables were associated with a longer duration of symptoms, including headache severity (hazard ratio [HR] 0.90 [95% CI 0.85–0.96]), headache frequency (HR 0.83 [95% CI 0.71–0.96]), confusion (HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.69–0.92]), forgetfulness (HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.68–0.92]), attention difficulties (HR 0.83 [95% CI 0.72–0.96]), trouble remembering (HR 0.84 [95% CI 0.72–0.98]), getting tired often (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.76–0.97]), getting tired easily (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.76–0.98]), dizziness (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.75–0.99]), and abnormal performance on the Romberg test (HR 0.59 [95% CI 0.40–0.85]). A multivariate Cox proportional hazards model indicated that an abnormal performance on the Romberg test was independently associated with a longer duration of symptoms (HR 0.65 [95% CI 0.44–0.98]; p = 0.038).
For children and adolescents evaluated within 10 days after receiving a concussion, abnormal performance on the Romberg test was independently associated with a longer duration of symptoms during recovery. In line with findings of other recent studies investigating predictors of symptom resolution, postural stability tests may provide useful prognostic information for sports medicine clinicians.