Differential rates of recovery after acute sport-related concussion: electrophysiologic, symptomatic, and neurocognitive indices

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2012 Feb;29(1):23-32. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e318246ae46.


Purpose: To determine if motor evoked potentials (MEPs), postconcussion signs and symptoms, and neurocognitive functions follow a similar recovery pattern after concussion.

Methods: Nine collegiate athletes with acute concussion (>24 hours after injury) participated in this retrospective time series design. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied over the motor cortex, and MEPs were recorded from the contralateral upper extremity. Self-reported symptoms were evaluated using the Head Injury Scale, and the Concussion Resolution Index was used to assess neurocognitive function. All measures were repeated on days 3, 5, and 10 after injury.

Results: Composite scores on the Head Injury Scale were significantly higher on day 1 after injury (F3,51 = 15.3; P = 0.0001). Processing speed on the Concussion Resolution Index was slower on days 1, 3, and 5 compared with that on day 10 (F3,24 = 6.75; P = 0.0002). Median MEP latencies were significantly longer on day 10 compared with day 1 after concussion (t8 = -2.69; P = 0.03). Ulnar MEP amplitudes were significantly smaller on day 3 after concussion compared with day 5 (t8 = -3.48; P = 0.008).

Conclusions: Acutely concussed collegiate athletes demonstrate changes in MEPs, which persist for up to 10 days after injury and do not follow the same recovery pattern as symptoms and neuropsychological test performance. The apparent differential rates of recovery most likely indicate different pathophysiological processes occurring in the immediate postconcussion period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult