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Shawn R. Eagle, Anish Puligilla, Vanessa Fazio-Sumrok, Nathan Kegel, Michael W. Collins and Anthony P. Kontos

OBJECTIVE

No studies to date have investigated the role of early clinical care in time to recovery from concussion in a pediatric population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of clinic presentation timing (≤ 7 days [early] compared to 8–20 days [late] from injury) in concussion assessment performance and risk for prolonged recovery (> 30 days) in pediatric concussion.

METHODS

This study is a retrospective cross-sectional study from a concussion clinic between April 2016 and January 2019, including 218 children and adolescents with diagnosed concussion, separated based on clinic presentation timing following injury: early (≤ 7 days) and late (8–20 days). Outcomes were recovery time, Postconcussion Symptom Scale (PCSS), Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screen (VOMS), and demographics, medical history, and injury information. A general linear model and chi-square analyses were used to assess differences between early and late presentation, along with logistic regression, to predict prolonged recovery (> 30 days).

RESULTS

Those with early presentation reported higher symptoms on VOMS subtests (79%–85%) compared to those with late presentation (61%–78%), with the exception of near-point of convergence distance and visual motion sensitivity (VMS). The strongest predictor of prolonged recovery was number of days to first clinic visit (OR 9.8). Positive VMS (OR 5.18), history of headache/migraine (OR 4.02), and PCSS score (OR 1.04) were also predictive of prolonged recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite patients in the early presentation group presenting with more positive VOMS scores, the early presentation group recovered sooner than patients in the late presentation group. Even after controlling for vestibular dysfunction, history of headache or migraine, and total symptom severity, days to first visit remained the most robust predictor of recovery > 30 days. These findings suggest that early, specialized medical care and intervention for children and adolescents with recent concussion is associated with normal recovery time. Clinicians should educate children and parents on the potential importance of early treatment to improve the odds of positive outcomes following concussion.

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Jason P. Mihalik, Jamie E. Stump, Michael W. Collins, Mark R. Lovell, Melvin Field and Joseph C. Maroon

Object. The object of this study was to compare symptom status and neurocognitive functioning in athletes with no headache (non-HA group), athletes complaining of headache (HA group), and athletes with characteristics of posttraumatic migraine (PTM group).

Methods. Neurocognitive tests were undertaken by 261 high-school and collegiate athletes with a mean age of 16.36 ± 2.6 years. Athletes were separated into three groups: the PTM group (74 athletes with a mean age of 16.39 ± 3.06 years), the HA group (124 athletes with a mean age of 16.44 ± 2.51 years), and the non-HA group (63 patients with a mean age of 16.14 ± 2.18 years). Neurocognitive summary scores (outcome measures) for verbal and visual memory, visual motor speed, reaction time, and total symptom scores were collected using ImPACT, a computer software program designed to assess sports-related concussion.

Significant differences existed among the three groups for all outcome measures. The PTM group demonstrated significantly greater neurocognitive deficits when compared with the HA and non-HA groups. The PTM group also exhibited the greatest amount of departure from baseline scores.

Conclusions. The differences among these groups can be used as a basis to argue that PTM characteristics triggered by sports-related concussion are related to increased neurocognitive dysfunction following mild traumatic brain injury. Thus, athletes suffering a concussion accompanied by PTM should be examined in a setting that includes symptom status and neurocognitive testing to address their recovery more fully. Given the increased impairments observed in the PTM group, in this population clinicians should exercise increased caution in decisions about treatment and when the athlete should be allowed to return to play.

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Mark R. Lovell, Michael W. Collins, Grant L. Iverson, Melvin Field, Joseph C. Maroon, Robert Cantu, Kenneth Podell, John W. Powell, Mark Belza and Freddie H. Fu

Object. A computerized neuropsychological test battery was conducted to evaluate memory dysfunction and self-reporting of symptoms in a group of high school athletes who had suffered concussion.

Methods. Neuropsychological performance prior to and following concussion was compared with the test performance of an age-matched control group. Potentially important diagnostic markers of concussion severity are discussed and linked to recovery within the 1st week of injury.

Conclusions. High school athletes who had suffered mild concussion demonstrated significant declines in memory processes relative to a noninjured control group. Statistically significant differences between preseason and postinjury memory test results were still evident in the concussion group at 4 and 7 days postinjury. Self-reported neurological symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and nausea resolved by Day 4. Duration of on-field mental status changes such as retrograde amnesia and posttraumatic confusion was related to the presence of memory impairment at 36 hours and 4 and 7 days post-injury and was also related to slower resolution of self-reported symptoms. The results of this study suggest that caution should be exercised in returning high school athletes to the playing field following concussion. On-field mental status changes appear to have prognostic utility and should be taken into account when making return-to-play decisions following concussion. Athletes who exhibit on-field mental status changes for more than 5 minutes have longer-lasting postconcussion symptoms and memory decline.