Many studies have identified factors associated with increased symptom burden and prolonged recovery after pediatric and adolescent concussion. Few have systematically examined the effects of prior concussion on these outcomes in patients with concussion due to any mechanism. An improved understanding of the short- and long-term effects of a multiple concussion history will improve counseling and management of this subgroup of patients.
A retrospective review of adolescent and young adult acute concussion patients presenting to the multidisciplinary concussion clinic between 2018 and 2019 was conducted at a single center. Patient demographic data, medical history including prior concussion, initial symptom severity score (SSS), injury mechanisms, and recovery times were collected. Univariate and multivariable analyses were conducted to identify associations of history of prior concussion and patient and injury characteristics with symptom score and recovery time.
A total of 266 patients with an average age of 15.4 years (age range 13–27 years) were included. Prior concussion was reported in 35% of patients. The number of prior concussions per patient was not significantly associated with presenting symptom severity, recovery time, or recovery within 28 days. Male sex and sports-related concussion (SRC) were associated with lower presenting SSS and shorter recovery time on univariate but not multivariable analysis. However, compared to non–sport concussion mechanisms, SRC was associated with 2.3 times higher odds of recovery within 28 days (p = 0.04). A history of psychiatric disorders was associated with higher SSS in univariate analysis and longer recovery time in univariate and multivariable analyses. Multivariable log-linear regression also demonstrated 5 times lower odds of recovery within 28 days for those with a psychiatric history.
The results of this study demonstrated that an increasing number of prior concussions was associated with a trend toward higher presenting SSS after youth acute concussion but did not show a significant association with recovery time or delayed (> 28 days) recovery. Presence of psychiatric history was found to be significantly associated with longer recovery and lower odds of early (≤ 28 days) recovery. Future prospective, long-term, and systematic study is necessary to determine the optimal counseling and management of adolescent and young adult patients with a history of multiple concussions.