Home Emergency Medicine Longer School Absence After Concussion May Increase Symptom Burden

Longer School Absence After Concussion May Increase Symptom Burden

Authors say early return to school (in less than three days) may ultimately speed recovery

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Prolonged absence from school after a concussion is associated with a greater symptom burden at 14 days, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in JAMA Network Open.

Christopher G. Vaughan, Psy.D., from Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined the typical time to return to school after a concussion and evaluated whether an earlier return to school (less than three days postconcussion) is associated with symptom burden 14 days after injury. The analysis included 1,630 children (aged 5 to 18 years) with an acute (<48 hours) concussion.

The researchers found that 53.7 percent of children had an early return to school. Across age groups, the mean number of days missed increased (5 to 7 years, 2.61 days; 8 to 12 years, 3.26 days; 13 to 18 years, 4.71 days). There was an association observed between early return to school and lower symptom burden 14 days postinjury in the 8- to 12-year-old and 13- to 18-year-old age groups, but not in the 5- to 7-year-old age group. In individuals with a higher symptom burden at the time of injury, the association between early return and lower symptom burden was stronger, except in the 5- to 7-year-old age group.

“These results supported the growing belief that prolonged absences from school and other life activities after a concussion may be detrimental to recovery,” the authors write. “An early return to school may be associated with a lower symptom burden and, ultimately, faster recovery.”

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