Clinical affect and sensory correlates in adolescent sports concussions

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ObjectiveIdentifying risk factors is important in adolescent sports concussions. This study aimed to explore the relationship between affective symptoms and physical symptoms in youth concussions.DesignAthletes were split into two groups: self-reported emotional symptoms (irritability/aggression, anxiety, depression, apathy, and/or labile mood; EMO, n=22) and a control group without emotional symptoms (CON, n=15). Groups were examined for differences between post-concussive symptoms and peri-concussive factors.SettingOutpatient clinic.Participants37 concussed adolescents age 12–17 with persisting concussion symptoms were assessed. Concussion diagnoses were indicated by traumatically induced alterations in mental status (with or without LOC), disruption in brain functioning (memory loss/neurological deficits), and other physiologic symptoms post-concussion. Those with baseline psychiatric history and/or special education were excluded.Assessment of risk factorsPost-concussive symptom variable relationships were assessed.Outcome measuresgroup differences were analysed using ANOVAs.ResultsNo differences between positive LOC, positive amnesia, or post-concussive criteria existed, indicating likely comparable severity. While there were no group differences for number of concussions, headaches, or nausea, those in EMO were significantly more likely to endorse photo-sensitivity (p=0.003, F=10.155) and phono-sensitivity (p=0.007, F=8.108). Both anxiety and irritability/aggression were significantly (p<0.05) correlated with endorsement of attention difficulties (r=0.332, r=0.474, respectively). Family psychiatric history was not correlated with emotional difficulties post-concussion.ConclusionsResults indicate that adolescents who self-report emotional difficulties following sports concussion are more likely to endorse some physical symptoms, particularly photo-sensitivity and phono-sensitivity. Those experiencing anxiety or irritability are also more likely to experience increased attentional difficulties.Competing interestsNone.

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