Additional Post-Concussion Impact Exposure May Affect Recovery in Adolescent Athletes

J Neurotrauma. 2016 Apr 15;33(8):761-5. doi: 10.1089/neu.2015.4082. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


Repeat concussion has been associated with risk for prolonged and pronounced clinical recovery in athletes. In this study of adolescent athletes, we examined whether an additional head impact within 24 h of a sports-related concussion (SRC) is associated with higher symptom burden and prolonged clinical recovery compared with a single-injury group. Forty-two student-athletes (52% male, mean age = 14.9 years) diagnosed with an SRC in a concussion clinic were selected for this study: (1) 21 athletes who sustained an additional significant head impact within 24 h of the initial injury (additional-impact group); (2) 21 single-injury athletes, age and gender matched, who sustained only one discrete concussive blow to the head (single-injury group). Groups did not differ on initial injury characteristics or pre-injury risk factors. The effect of injury status (single- vs. additional-impact) was examined on athlete- and parent-reported symptom burden (at first clinic visit) and length of recovery (LOR). Higher symptom burden was reported by the athletes and parents in the additional-impact group at the time of first visit. The additional-impact group also had a significantly longer LOR compared with the single-injury group. These findings provide preliminary, hypothesis-generating evidence for the importance of immediate removal from play following an SRC to protect athletes from re-injury, which may worsen symptoms and prolong recovery. The retrospective study design from a specialized clinical sample points to the need for future prospective studies of the relationship between single- and additional-impact injuries on symptom burden and LOR.

Keywords: athletes; brain injury; concussion; mTBI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes* / psychology
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / psychology
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Single-Blind Method