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Recovery time twice as long for youths with past concussions

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 17, 2013

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Children and adolescents who have a concussion often take longer to recover if they experienced head trauma previously, said a study posted online June 10 in Pediatrics (link).

Symptoms lasted a median of 24 days in patients who had at least one previous concussion and 12 days for patients with their first such head injury. Median symptom duration was even longer for patients with multiple previous concussions (28 days) and for those who had sustained head trauma within the previous year (35 days).

Other factors that predicted a longer recovery time after a concussion included being age 13 or older; not losing consciousness; and experiencing severe symptoms, which was indicated by an initial score of greater than 18 on the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire. The RPSQ is a 16-item concussion symptom inventory checklist.

Researchers examined data on 280 patients ages 11 to 22 who were treated for concussion symptoms in the emergency department of a children’s hospital between Sept. 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2012. Participants sought medical care within 72 hours of the head injury.

After an ED visit, patients regularly were emailed a follow-up questionnaire containing the RPSQ. Emails stopped when the patient no longer had concussion symptoms.

Sixty-four percent of participants were injured playing a sport, the most common being hockey (14%), soccer and football (9%), and basketball (8%).

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