Early symptom burden predicts recovery after sport-related concussion

Neurology. 2014 Dec 9;83(24):2204-10. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001073. Epub 2014 Nov 7.


Objective: To identify independent predictors of and use recursive partitioning to develop a multivariate regression tree predicting symptom duration greater than 28 days after a sport-related concussion.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of patients in a sports concussion clinic. Participants completed questionnaires that included the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS). Participants were asked to record the date on which they last experienced symptoms. Potential predictor variables included age, sex, score on symptom inventories, history of prior concussions, performance on computerized neurocognitive assessments, loss of consciousness and amnesia at the time of injury, history of prior medical treatment for headaches, history of migraines, and family history of concussion. We used recursive partitioning analysis to develop a multivariate prediction model for identifying athletes at risk for a prolonged recovery from concussion.

Results: A total of 531 patients ranged in age from 7 to 26 years (mean 14.6 ± 2.9 years). The mean PCSS score at the initial visit was 26 ± 26; mean time to presentation was 12 ± 5 days. Only total score on symptom inventory was independently associated with symptoms lasting longer than 28 days (adjusted odds ratio 1.044; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.034, 1.054 for PCSS). No other potential predictor variables were independently associated with symptom duration or useful in developing the optimal regression decision tree. Most participants (86%; 95% CI 80%, 90%) with an initial PCSS score of <13 had resolution of their symptoms within 28 days of injury.

Conclusions: The only independent predictor of prolonged symptoms after sport-related concussion is overall symptom burden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / etiology
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sports
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult