Specialist Referral and Outcomes in Adolescent Athletes With Prior Concussion History

Hannah Worrall, Jane Chung, Munro Cullum, Shane Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To examine specialist referral patterns and clinical outcomes in adolescents with differing levels of prior concussion history. BACKGROUND: Limited evidence exists on healthcare utilization and outcomes in concussed adolescent athletes with and without a history of prior concussion. DESIGN/METHODS: Data were prospectively collected from participants aged 12-18 diagnosed with a sport-related concussion and documented prior concussion history between August 2015-March 2020. Participants were separated into 3 groups: 0, 1, and 2 + prior concussions. Demographics, medical history, specialist referrals, and clinical outcome variables obtained at 3-months post-concussion were analyzed. RESULTS: One thousand one hundred ninety-seven participants were included: 114 (10.4%) had 2+, 213 (19.4%) had 1, and 770 (70.2%) had 0 prior concussions. There was no difference in sex or time to presentation. A small difference was found across age (15.3 ± 1.6 vs 14.9 ± 1.6 vs 14.5 ± 1.6 years, p < 0.001). Significant differences were also observed between groups in self-reported history of psychological disorders (14.9 vs 15 vs 8.4%, p = 0.01) and headaches/migraines (25.4 vs 20.2 vs 15.5%, p = 0.02). Significant differences between the groups were found in specialist referrals, with more referrals made in the 2 + group to physical therapy (39.6 vs 28.2 vs 23.4%, p = 0.001), neuropsychology (17.1 vs 5.3 vs 7.5%, p = 0.001), and neurology (8.9 vs 2.9 vs 2.2%, p = 0.001). Fewer participants in the 2 + group recovered in = 30 days (53.6 vs 65.6 vs 68.5%, p = 0.04) and reported lower rates of return to activity at 3-months post-concussion (67.9 vs 85.9 vs 87.6%, p < 0.001). No differences were seen in symptom severity, PHQ-8, or GAD-7 scores. All reported as 2 + vs 1 vs 0. CONCLUSIONS: Concussed adolescent athletes with a history of 2 or more prior concussions had a higher rate of specialist referrals, were less likely to have returned to prior level of play/activity 3 months following injury, and were less likely to have resolution of symptoms in 30 days or less.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S19-S20
StatePublished - Jan 4 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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