Characteristics of prolonged concussion recovery in a pediatric subspecialty referral population

J Pediatr. 2014 Dec;165(6):1207-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.08.034. Epub 2014 Sep 26.


Objective: To identify pre-existing characteristics associated with prolonged recovery from concussion in a sample of patients referred to a pediatric sports medicine clinic.

Study design: This was a retrospective, exploratory cohort study of 247 patients age 5-18 years with concussion referred to a tertiary pediatric hospital-affiliated sports medicine clinic from July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2011. A random sample of all eligible patient visits (3740) was chosen for further review and abstraction. Statistical comparisons between subsets of patients were conducted using exact χ(2) tests, logistic regression, quantile regression, and Kaplan-Meier survival curves.

Results: The median time until returning to school part-time was 12 days (IQR 6-21); until returning to school full-time without accommodations was 35 days (IQR 11-105); until becoming symptom-free was 64 days (IQR 18-119); and until being fully cleared to return to sports was 75 days (IQR 30-153). Furthermore, 73% of all patients were symptomatic for >4 weeks, 73% were prescribed some form of school accommodation, and 61% reported a decline in grades. Characteristics associated with a prolonged recovery included a history of depression or anxiety; an initial complaint of dizziness; abnormal convergence or symptom provocation following oculomotor examination on physical examination; and history of prior concussion.

Conclusions: Pediatric and adolescent patients with concussion may experience cognitive and emotional morbidity that can last for several months following injury. Clinicians should consider specific pre-existing characteristics and presenting symptoms that may be associated with a more complicated recovery for concussion patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / pathology*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Convalescence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function* / physiology
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors