Objective: To characterize the prevalence and recovery of pediatric patients with concussion who manifest clinical vestibular deficits and to describe the correlation of these deficits with neurocognitive function, based on computerized neurocognitive testing, in a sample of pediatric patients with concussion.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients ages 5-18 years with concussion referred to a tertiary pediatric hospital-affiliated sports medicine clinic from July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011. A random sample of all eligible patient visits was obtained, and all related visits for those patients were reviewed.
Results: A total of 247 patients were chosen from 3740 eligible visits for detailed review and abstraction; 81% showed a vestibular abnormality on initial clinical examination. Those patients with vestibular signs on the initial examination took a significantly longer time to return to school (median 59 days vs 6 days, P=.001) or to be fully cleared (median 106 days vs 29 days, P=.001). They additionally scored more poorly on initial computerized neurocognitive testing, and it took longer for them to recover from neurocognitive deficits. Those patients with 3 or more previous concussions had a greater prevalence of vestibular deficits, and it took longer for those deficits to resolve.
Conclusion: Vestibular deficits in children and adolescents with a history of concussion are highly prevalent. These deficits appear to be associated with extended recovery times and poorer performance on neurocognitive testing. Further studies evaluating the effectiveness of vestibular therapy on improving such deficits are warranted.
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