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Muhammad Ali, Nek Asghar, Adam Li, Theodore Hannah, Zachary Spiera, Naoum Fares Marayati, Nickolas Dreher, John Durbin, Alex Gometz, Mark Lovell, and Tanvir Choudhri

OBJECTIVE

Concussions in youth sports comprise an estimated 1.6–3.8 million annual injuries in the US. Sex, age, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been identified as salient risk factors for concussion. This study seeks to evaluate the role of premorbid depression or anxiety (DA), with or without antidepressant use, on the incidence of concussion and the recovery of symptoms and neurocognitive dysfunction after concussion.

METHODS

Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) was administered to 7453 youth athletes at baseline. Throughout the season, concussions were examined by physicians and athletic trainers, followed by readministration of ImPACT postinjury (PI) and again at follow-up, a median of 7 days PI. Individuals were divided into three categories: 1) unmedicated athletes with DA (DA-only, n = 315), athletes taking antidepressants (DA-meds, n = 81), and those without DA or antidepressant use (non-DA, n = 7039). Concussion incidence was calculated as the total number of concussions per total number of patient-years. The recovery of neurocognitive measures PI was calculated as standardized deviations from baseline to PI and then follow-up in the 5 composite ImPACT scores: symptom score, verbal memory, visual memory, visual motor skills, and reaction time. Univariate results were confirmed with multivariate analysis.

RESULTS

There was no difference in concussion incidence between the DA-only cohort and the non-DA group. However, the DA-meds group had a significantly greater incidence of concussion than both the DA-only group (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.88–7.18, p = 0.0001) and the non-DA group (OR 2.19, 95% CI 1.16–4.12, p = 0.02). Deviation from baseline in PI symptom scores was greater among the DA-meds group as compared to the non-DA group (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01–1.28, p = 0.03). At follow-up, the deviation from baseline in symptom scores remained elevated among the DA-meds group as compared to the non-DA group (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.20–2.20, p = 0.002) and the DA-only group (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.12–3.10, p = 0.02). Deviation from baseline in follow-up verbal memory was also greater among the DA-meds group as compared to both the non-DA group (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.08–2.27, p = 0.02) and the DA-only group (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.03–2.69, p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

Premorbid DA itself does not seem to affect the incidence of concussion or the recovery of symptoms and neurocognitive dysfunction PI. However, antidepressant use for DA is associated with 1) increased concussion incidence and 2) elevated symptom scores and verbal memory scores up to 7 days after concussion, suggesting impaired symptomatic and neurocognitive recovery on ImPACT.

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Zachary Spiera, Theodore Hannah, Adam Li, Nickolas Dreher, Naoum Fares Marayati, Muhammad Ali, Dhruv S. Shankar, John Durbin, Alexander J. Schupper, Alex Gometz, Mark Lovell, and Tanvir Choudhri

OBJECTIVE

Given concerns about the potential long-term effects of concussion in young athletes, concussion prevention has become a major focus for amateur sports leagues. Athletes have been known to frequently use anti-inflammatory medications to manage injuries, expedite return to play, and treat concussion symptoms. However, the effects of baseline nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use on the susceptibility to head injury and concussion remain unclear. This study aims to assess the effects of preinjury NSAID use on concussion incidence, severity, and recovery in young athletes.

METHODS

Data from 25,815 ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) tests were obtained through a research agreement with ImPACT Applications Inc. Subjects ranged in age from 12 to 22 years old. Those who reported NSAID use at baseline were assigned to one (anti-inflammatory [AI]) cohort, whereas all others were assigned to the control (CT) cohort. Differences in head trauma and concussion incidence, severity, and recovery were assessed using chi-square tests, unpaired t-tests, and Kaplan-Meier plots.

RESULTS

The CT cohort comprised a higher percentage (p < 0.0001) of males (66.30%) than the AI cohort (44.16%) and had a significantly greater portion of athletes who played football (p = 0.004). However, no statistically significant differences were found between the two cohorts in terms of the incidence of head trauma (CT = 0.489, AI = 0.500, p = 0.9219), concussion incidence (CT = 0.175, AI = 0.169, p = 0.7201), injury severity, or median concussion recovery time (CT = 8, AI = 8, p = 0.6416). In a multivariable analysis controlling for baseline differences between the cohorts, no association was found between NSAID use and concussion incidence or severity.

CONCLUSIONS

In this analysis, the authors found no evidence that preinjury use of NSAIDs affects concussion risk in adolescent athletes. They also found no indication that preinjury NSAID use affects the severity of initial injury presentation or concussion recovery.