Early psychological symptoms predict concussion recovery time in middle and high school athletes

Kristin Wilmoth, Alexander Tan, Tahnae Tarkenton, Heidi C. Rossetti, Linda S Hynan, Nyaz Didehbani, Shane M. Miller, Kathleen R Bell, C. Munro Cullum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Lingering concussion symptoms can negatively impact a child’s well-being, yet variability in recovery is poorly understood. To aid detection of those at risk for prolonged symptom duration, we explored postconcussion mood and sleep symptoms as predictors of recovery time in adolescent athletes. Method: We utilized analyses designed to control for potentially confounding variables, such as concussion severity indicators and premorbid psychiatric history. Participants included 393 adolescent athletes (aged 12–18 years) evaluated in outpatient concussion clinics within 2 weeks after injury. Provider-documented date of symptom resolution was obtained via medical record review. Survival analysis for recovery time was conducted in the total sample, and separately for males and females using prior medical history (psychiatric disorder, prior concussion), injury-related factors (loss of consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia [PTA], concussion symptom severity), and psychological symptoms (General Anxiety Disorder-7 Item Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire-8 Item Depression Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) collected at initial clinic visit. Results: PTA, concussion symptoms, and sleep quality were associated with recovery in the total sample (HRs = 0.64–0.99, ps <.05). When analyzed by sex, only concussion symptoms were associated with recovery for females (with females reporting greater symptom severity than males), while for males PTA and greater depression symptoms were significant predictors of recovery (HRs = 0.54–0.98, ps <.05). Conclusions: These findings identified differences in symptom presentation between sexes, particularly for mood symptoms, and suggest that assessment of postconcussive symptoms is useful in helping to identify individuals at risk for longer recovery. Continued exploration of post-injury psychological difficulties in athletes is warranted for better concussion management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • athlete
  • concussion
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • postconcussive symptoms
  • psychological screening
  • sports-related neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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