Clinical predictors of vestibulo-ocular dysfunction in pediatric sports-related concussion

J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2017 Jan;19(1):38-45. doi: 10.3171/2016.7.PEDS16310. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


OBJECTIVE There were 2 objectives of this study. The first objective was to identify clinical variables associated with vestibulo-ocular dysfunction (VOD) detected at initial consultation among pediatric patients with acute sports-related concussion (SRC) and postconcussion syndrome (PCS). The second objective was to reexamine the prevalence of VOD in this clinical cohort and evaluate the effect of VOD on length of recovery and the development of PCS. METHODS A retrospective review was conducted for all patients with acute SRC and PCS who were evaluated at a pediatric multidisciplinary concussion program from September 2013 to May 2015. Acute SRS was defined as presenting < 30 days postinjury, and PCS was defined according to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision criteria and included being symptomatic 30 days or longer postinjury. The initial assessment included clinical history and physical examination performed by 1 neurosurgeon. Patients were assessed for VOD, defined as the presence of more than 1 subjective vestibular and oculomotor complaint (dizziness, diplopia, blurred vision, etc.) and more than 1 objective physical examination finding (abnormal near point of convergence, smooth pursuits, saccades, or vestibulo-ocular reflex testing). Poisson regression analysis was used to identify factors that increased the risk of VOD at initial presentation and the development of PCS. RESULTS Three hundred ninety-nine children, including 306 patients with acute SRC and 93 with PCS, were included. Of these patients, 30.1% of those with acute SRC (65.0% male, mean age 13.9 years) and 43.0% of those with PCS (41.9% male, mean age 15.4 years) met the criteria for VOD at initial consultation. Independent predictors of VOD at initial consultation included female sex, preinjury history of depression, posttraumatic amnesia, and presence of dizziness, blurred vision, or difficulty focusing at the time of injury. Independent predictors of PCS among patients with acute SRC included the presence of VOD at initial consultation, preinjury history of depression, and posttraumatic amnesia at the time of injury. CONCLUSIONS This study identified important potential risk factors for the development of VOD following pediatric SRC. These results provide confirmatory evidence that VOD at initial consultation is associated with prolonged recovery and is an independent predictor for the development of PCS. Future studies examining clinical prediction rules in pediatric concussion should include VOD. Additional research is needed to elucidate the natural history of VOD following SRC and establish evidence-based indications for targeted vestibular rehabilitation.

Keywords: ADHD = attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; CI = confidence interval; 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; RR = risk ratio; SRC = sports-related concussion; VOD = vestibulo-ocular dysfunction; VOR = vestibulo-ocular reflex; postconcussion syndrome; predictor; sports-related concussion; trauma; vestibulo-ocular dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports* / trends