Audiovestibular symptoms as predictors of prolonged sports-related concussion among NCAA athletes

Laryngoscope. 2017 Dec;127(12):2850-2853. doi: 10.1002/lary.26564. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Objective: We looked to determine the rates of audiovestibular symptoms following sports-related concussions among collegiate athletes. Further, we assessed the correlation between these symptoms and the time to return to participation in athletic activity.

Study design: Retrospective analysis of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System (NCAA-ISS).

Methods: The NCAA-ISS was queried from 2009 through 2014 for seven men's sports and eight women's sports across divisions 1, 2, and 3. Injuries resulting in concussions were analyzed for audiovestibular symptoms, duration of symptoms, and return to participation times.

Results: From 2009 to 2014, there were 1,647 recorded sports-related concussions, with athletes reporting dizziness (68.2%), imbalance (35.8%), disorientation (31.4%), noise sensitivity (29.9%), and tinnitus (8.5%). Concussion symptoms resolved within 1 day (17.1%), within 2 to 7 days (50.0%), within 8 to 30 days (25.9%), or persisted over 1 month (7.0%). Return to participation occurred within 1 week (38.3%), within 1 month (53.0%), or over 1 month (8.7%). Using Mann-Whitney U testing, overall symptom duration and return to competition time were significantly increased when any of these symptoms were present (P < 0.05). Duration of concussion symptom correlated with dizziness (P = 0.043) and noise sensitivity (P = 0.000), whereas return to participation times correlated with imbalance (P = 0.011) and noise sensitivity (P = 0.000). Dizziness and imbalance (odds ratio: 4.15, confidence interval: 3.20-5.38, P < 0.001) were the two symptoms with the strongest association.

Conclusion: Audiovestibular symptoms are common complaints among collegiate athletes sustaining concussions. Dizziness and noise sensitivity correlated with the duration of concussive symptoms, whereas imbalance and noise sensitivity was correlated with prolonged return to competition time.

Level of evidence: 4. Laryngoscope, 127:2850-2853, 2017.

Keywords: Concussion; NCAA athletes; audiovestibular symptoms; sports-related concussion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / complications*
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology
  • Hearing Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organizations, Nonprofit
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sports
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Vestibular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Vestibular Diseases / etiology*