Predictors of clinical recovery from concussion: a systematic review

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Abstract

Objective

A systematic review of factors that might be associated with, or influence, clinical recovery from sport-related concussion. Clinical recovery was defined functionally as a return to normal activities, including school and sports, following injury.

Design

Systematic review.

Data sources

PubMed, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, Scopus and Web of Science.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies

Studies published by June of 2016 that addressed clinical recovery from concussion.

Results

A total of 7617 articles were identified using the search strategy, and 101 articles were included. There are major methodological differences across the studies. Many different clinical outcomes were measured, such as symptoms, cognition, balance, return to school and return to sports, although symptom outcomes were the most frequently measured. The most consistent predictor of slower recovery from concussion is the severity of a person’s acute and subacute symptoms. The development of subacute problems with headaches or depression is likely a risk factor for persistent symptoms lasting greater than a month. Those with a preinjury history of mental health problems appear to be at greater risk for having persistent symptoms. Those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities do not appear to be at substantially greater risk. There is some evidence that the teenage years, particularly high school, might be the most vulnerable time period for having persistent symptoms—with greater risk for girls than boys.

Conclusion

The literature on clinical recovery from sport-related concussion has grown dramatically, is mostly mixed, but some factors have emerged as being related to outcome.

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