Premorbid migraine history as a risk factor for vestibular and oculomotor baseline concussion assessment in pediatric athletes

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Migraine history has recently been identified as a risk factor for concussion and recovery. The authors performed a cross-sectional study examining baseline outcome measures on newly developed and implemented concussion assessment tools in pediatrics. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of premorbid, diagnosed migraine headaches as a risk factor on vestibular and oculomotor baseline assessment in pediatric athletes.


Pediatric athletes between the ages of 8 and 14 years with a diagnosed history of migraine headache (n = 28) and matched controls without a history of diagnosed migraine headache (n = 28) were administered a baseline concussion assessment battery, consisting of the Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS), near point of convergence (NPC), and the King-Devick (K-D) tests. Between-groups comparisons were performed for vestibular symptoms and provocation scores on the VOMS (smooth pursuit, saccades, convergence, vestibular/ocular reflex, visual motion sensitivity), NPC (average distance), and K-D (time).


Individuals diagnosed with migraine headaches reported greater VOMS smooth pursuit scores (p = 0.02), convergence scores (p = 0.04), vestibular ocular reflex scores (p value range 0.002–0.04), and visual motion sensitivity scores (p = 0.009). Differences were also observed on K-D oculomotor performance with worse times in those diagnosed with migraine headache (p = 0.02). No differences were reported on NPC distance (p = 0.06) or headache symptom reporting (p = 0.07) prior to the VOMS assessment.


Pediatric athletes diagnosed with migraine headaches reported higher baseline symptom provocation scores on the VOMS. Athletes with migraine headaches also performed worse on the K-D test, further illustrating the influence of premorbid migraine headaches as a risk factor for elevated concussion assessment outcomes at baseline. Special consideration may be warranted for post-concussion assessment in athletes with migraine headaches.

ABBREVIATIONS K-D = King-Devick; NPC = near point of convergence; SCAT5 = Sport Concussion Assessment Tool–5th Edition; VMS = visual motion sensitivity; VOMS = Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening; VOR = vestibular ocular reflex.

Article Information

Correspondence Ryan N. Moran: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 11, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2018.10.PEDS18425.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.






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