Objectives: To determine the association between early screen time (7-10 days postinjury) and postconcussion symptom severity in children and adolescents with concussion, as compared to those with orthopedic injury (OI).
Methods: This was a planned secondary analysis of a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Participants were 633 children and adolescents with acute concussion and 334 with OI aged 8 to 16, recruited from 5 Canadian pediatric emergency departments. Postconcussion symptoms were measured using the Health and Behavior Inventory at 7 to 10 days, weekly for 3 months, and biweekly from 3 to 6 months postinjury. Screen time was measured by using the Healthy Lifestyle Behavior Questionnaire. Generalized least squares models were fit for 4 Health and Behavior Inventory outcomes (self- and parent-reported cognitive and somatic symptoms), with predictors including screen time, covariates associated with concussion recovery, and 2 3-way interactions (self- and parent-reported screen time with group and time postinjury).
Results: Screen time was a significant but nonlinear moderator of group differences in postconcussion symptom severity for parent-reported somatic (P = .01) and self-reported cognitive symptoms (P = .03). Low and high screen time were both associated with relatively more severe symptoms in the concussion group compared to the OI group during the first 30 days postinjury but not after 30 days. Other risk factors and health behaviors had stronger associations with symptom severity than screen time.
Conclusions: The association of early screen time with postconcussion symptoms is not linear. Recommending moderation in screen time may be the best approach to clinical management.