Vestibulo-ocular dysfunction in pediatric sports-related concussion

J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Sep;16(3):248-55. doi: 10.3171/2015.1.PEDS14524. Epub 2015 Jun 2.


Object: The objective of this study was 2-fold: 1) to examine the prevalence of vestibulo-ocular dysfunction (VOD) among children and adolescents with acute sports-related concussion (SRC) and postconcussion syndrome (PCS) who were referred to a multidisciplinary pediatric concussion program; and 2) to determine if VOD is associated with the development of PCS in this cohort.

Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective review of all patients with acute SRC (presenting 30 days or less postinjury) and PCS (3 or more symptoms for at least 1 month) referred to a multidisciplinary pediatric concussion program between September 2013 and July 2014. Initial assessment included clinical history, physical examination, and Post-Concussion Symptom Scale assessment. Patients were also assessed for VOD, which was defined as more than one subjective vestibular and oculomotor complaint (dizziness, blurred vision, and so on) and more than one objective physical examination finding (abnormal smooth pursuits, saccades, vestibulo-ocular reflex, and so on). This study was approved by the local institutional ethics review board.

Results: A total of 101 patients (mean age 14.2 years, SD 2.3 years; 63 male and 38 female patients) participated, including 77 (76.2%) with acute SRC and 24 (23.8%) with PCS. Twenty-two of the 77 patients (28.6%) with acute SRC and 15 of the 24 (62.5%) with PCS met the clinical criteria for VOD. The median duration of symptoms was 40 days (interquartile range [IQR] 28.5-54 days) for patients with acute SRC who had VOD compared with 21 days (IQR 13-32 days) for those without VOD (p = 0.0001). There was a statistically significant increase in the adjusted odds of developing PCS among patients with acute SRC who had VOD compared with those without VOD (adjusted OR 4.10; 95% CI 1.04-16.16).

Conclusions: Evidence of VOD was detected in a significant proportion of children and adolescents with acute SRC and PCS who were referred to a multidisciplinary pediatric concussion program. This clinical feature was a significant risk factor for the subsequent development of PCS in this pediatric acute SRC cohort.

Keywords: ICD-10 = International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision; IQR = interquartile range; LOC = loss of consciousness; NPC = near-point convergence; PCS = postconcussion syndrome; PCSS = Post-Concussion Symptom Scale; SRC = sports-related concussion; VOD = vestibulo-ocular dysfunction; VOR = vestibulo-ocular reflex; mTBI = mild traumatic brain injury; pediatric; postconcussion syndrome; sports-related concussion; trauma; vestibular therapy; vestibulo-ocular dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Male
  • Manitoba / epidemiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Odds Ratio
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult