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Donna K. Broshek, Tanya Kaushik, Jason R. Freeman, David Erlanger, Frank Webbe and Jeffrey T. Barth

Object. Females comprise an increasing percentage of the athlete population across all age groups, and analysis of recent literature reveals that they sustain more concussions in collegiate sports. Results of human and animal studies indicate that females may have poorer outcomes after traumatic brain injury; however, no return-to-play guideline takes sex or other individual differences into account. In the present study the authors evaluated the influence of patient sex on objective neurocognitive performance and subjective reporting of symptoms following sports-related concussion.

Methods. According to preseason baseline neurocognitive computerized testing in 2340 male and female high school and collegiate athletes, individuals who sustained sports-related concussions (155 persons) were reevaluated using an alternate form of the cognitive test. Sex differences in the magnitude of cognitive change from baseline levels and the subjective experience of symptoms were analyzed. To account for the possible protective effects of helmets, comparisons were performed among females, males with helmets, and males without helmets; none of the female athletes wore helmets.

Female athletes had significantly greater declines in simple and complex reaction times relative to preseason baseline levels, and they reported more postconcussion symptoms compared with males. As a group, females were cognitively impaired approximately 1.7 times more frequently than males following concussions. Furthermore, females experienced more objective and subjective adverse effects from concussion even after adjusting for the use of helmets by some groups of male athletes (for example, in football).

Conclusions. Return-to-play decisions and concussion management must be objective and made on an individual basis, including consideration of factors such as patient sex rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all guideline.

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David Erlanger, Tanya Kaushik, Robert Cantu, Jeffrey T. Barth, Donna K. Broshek, Jason R. Freeman and Frank M. Webbe

Object. Current grading systems of concussion and return-to-play guidelines have little empirical support. The authors therefore examined the relationships of the characteristics and symptoms of concussion and the history of concussion to three indicators of concussion severity—number of immediate symptoms, number of symptoms at the initial follow-up examination, and duration of symptoms—to establish an empirical basis for grading concussions.

Methods. Forty-seven athletes who sustained concussions were administered alternate forms of an Internet-based neurocognitive test until their performances were within normal limits relative to baseline levels. Assessments of observer-reported and self-reported symptoms at the sideline of the playing field on the day of injury, and at follow-up examinations were also obtained as part of a comprehensive concussion management protocol.

Although loss of consciousness (LOC) was a useful indicator of the initial severity of the injury, it did not correlate with other indices of concussion severity, including duration of symptoms. Athletes reporting memory problems at follow-up examinations had significantly more symptoms in general, longer durations of those symptoms, and significant decreases in scores on neurocognitive tests administered approximately 48 hours postinjury. This decline of scores on neurocognitive testing was significantly associated with an increased duration of symptoms. A history of concussion was unrelated to the number and duration of symptoms.

Conclusions. This paper represents the first documentation of empirically derived indicators of the clinical course of postconcussion symptom resolution. Self-reported memory problems apparent 24 hours postconcussion were robust indicators of the severity of sports-related concussion and should be a primary consideration in determining an athlete's readiness to return to competition. A decline on neurocognitive testing was the only objective measure significantly related to the duration of symptoms. Neither a brief LOC nor a history of concussion was a useful predictor of the duration of postconcussion symptoms.

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Neurobehavioral outcome 1 year after severe head injury

Experience of the Traumatic Coma Data Bank

Harvey S. Levin, Howard E. Gary Jr., Howard M. Eisenberg, Ronald M. Ruff, Jeffrey T. Barth, Jeffrey Kreutzer, Walter M. High Jr., Sandra Portman, Mary A. Foulkes, John A. Jane, Anthony Marmarou and Lawrence F. Marshall

✓ The outcome 1 year after they had sustained a severe head injury was investigated in patients who were admitted to the neurosurgery service at one of four centers participating in the Traumatic Coma Data Bank (TCDB). Of 300 eligible survivors, the quality of recovery 1 year after injury was assessed by at least the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) in 263 patients (87%), whereas complete neuropsychological assessment was performed in 127 (42%) of the eligible survivors. The capacity of the patients to undergo neuropsychological testing 1 year after injury was a criterion of recovery as reflected by a significant relationship to neurological indices of acute injury and the GOS score at the time of hospital discharge. The neurobehavioral data at 1 year after injury were generally comparable across the four samples of patients and characterized by impairment of memory and slowed information processing. In contrast, language and visuospatial ability recovered to within the normal range. The lowest postresuscitation Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score and pupillary reactivity were predictive of the 1-year GOS score and neuropsychological performance. The lowest GCS score was especially predictive of neuropsychological performance 1 year postinjury in patients who had at least one nonreactive pupil following resuscitation. Notwithstanding limitations related to the scope of the TCDB and attrition in follow-up material, the results indicate a characteristic pattern of neurobehavioral recovery from severe head injury and encourage the use of neurobehavioral outcome measurements in clinical trials to evaluate interventions for head-injured patients.

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Jay Jagannathan, David O. Okonkwo, Hian Kwang Yeoh, Aaron S. Dumont, Dwight Saulle, Julie Haizlip, Jeffrey T. Barth, John A. Jane Sr. and John A. Jane Jr.

Object

The management strategies and outcomes in pediatric patients with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are examined in this study.

Methods

This study was a retrospective review of a prospectively acquired pediatric trauma database. More than 750 pediatric patients with brain injury were seen over a 10-year period. Records were retrospectively reviewed to determine interventions for correcting ICP, and surviving patients were contacted prospectively to determine functional status and quality of life. Only patients with 2 years of follow-up were included in the study.

Results

Ninety-six pediatric patients (age range 3–18 years) were identified with a Glasgow Coma Scale score < 8 and elevated ICP > 20 mm Hg on presentation. The mean injury severity score was 65 (range 30–100). All patients were treated using a standardized head injury protocol. The mean time course until peak ICP was 69 hours postinjury (range 2–196 hours). Intracranial pressure control was achieved in 82 patients (85%). Methods employed to achieve ICP control included maximal medical therapy (sedation, hyperosmolar therapy, and paralysis) in 34 patients (35%), ventriculostomy in 23 patients (24%), and surgery in 39 patients (41%). Fourteen patients (15%) had refractory ICP despite all interventions, and all of these patients died. Seventy-two patients (75%) were discharged from the hospital, whereas 24 (25%) died during hospitalization. Univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that the presence of vascular injury, refractory ICP, and cisternal effacement at presentation had the highest correlation with subsequent death (p < 0.05). Mean follow-up was 53 months (range 11–126 months). Three patients died during the follow-up period (2 due to infections and 1 committed suicide). The mean 2-year Glasgow Outcome Scale score was 4 (median 4, range 1–5). The mean patient competency rating at follow-up was 4.13 out of 5 (median 4.5, range 1–4.8). Univariate analysis revealed that the extent of intracranial and systemic injuries had the highest correlation with long-term quality of life (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Controlling elevated ICP is an important factor in patient survival following severe pediatric TBI. The modality used for ICP control appears to be less important. Long-term follow-up is essential to determine neurocognitive sequelae associated with TBI.