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Prognosis Good Even With Slow Recovery From Concussion

Three-fourths of slow-recovery cohort were able to return to play in an additional month

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Most collegiate athletes with a slow recovery from sports-related concussion do eventually return to play, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Neurology.

Thomas Walker McAllister, M.D., from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues applied an operationalized definition of slow recovery and characterized predictors and long-term prognosis for male and female collegiate athletes with sports-related concussion (1,751 patients).

The researchers found that slow recovery (defined as exceeding 14 and 24 days for asymptomatic and/or return-to-play timepoints, respectively) occurred in 399 participants. Those with slow recovery were significantly more likely to be female (41.1 versus 35.6 percent), have higher initial postinjury Sport Concussion Assessment Tool symptom severity scores (mean, 36.6 versus 25.4) and lower postinjury Standardized Assessment of Concussion scores (mean, 25.74 versus 26.26), perform worse on the postinjury Balance Error Scoring System (mean, 17.8 versus 15.9), and be injured in practice (70.7 versus 65.1 percent). Roughly three-quarters of the slow-recovery group (77.6 percent) returned to play within 60 days of injury and 83.4 percent returned to play within 90 days of injury. At six months postinjury, only 10.6 percent had not returned to play.

“Although an athlete may experience a slow or delayed recovery, there is reason to believe recovery is achievable with additional time and injury management,” McAllister said in a statement. “This is an encouraging message that may help to relieve some of the discouragement that athletes can feel when trying to return to their sport. While some athletes took longer than 24 days to return to play, we found that three-quarters of them were able to return to sports if given just one more month to recover.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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