Despite the previous ideas that age and amnesia are the primary indicators of prolonged recovery time for traumatic brain injury, a new study suggests that severity of a broader range of symptoms is a much better indicator for longer recoveries from sports-related concussions.
William P Meehan, III, MD, Director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic, and Director of Research for the Brain Injury Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, presented his research on April 20th at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine 22nd Annual Meeting, according to NewsWise.
Dr. Meehan’s research studied athletes from two concussion clinics for a year. He compared age, score on symptom inventories number of previous concussions, composite scores on computerized neurocognitive tests, prior treatment for headaches, and numerous other possible predictors of prolonged recovery between two groups based on length of recovery. The groups were split by those who did and did not have resolved symptoms within 28 days.
The higher the athletes scored on the 22-item Post-Concussion Syndrome Scale (PCSS), the higher chance shown for a long recovery period. If symptoms are really terrible soon after the injury, an athlete is likely to be out of play for a longer period, basically.
While this seems like a fairly obvious conclusion, it goes against everything assumed about concussion recoveries for decades before now. Until this study, the prevailing belief was that the extremely young and extremely old patients had the longest recoveries, as well as those suffering more severe memory loss. It is entirely possible these factors still play large roles in establishing recovery time, but it appears they aren’t the whole picture.