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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 2, 2019

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Two Weeks After Sports-Related Concussion, Most Patients Have Not Recovered

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“This study challenges current perceptions that most people with a sports-related mTBI recover within 10 to 14 days,” write Stephen Kara, MBChB, of Axis Sports Medicine, Auckland, New Zealand. The findings also question the belief that children recover more slowly after sports-related concussion, and highlight the importance of early access to care after mTBI.

The researchers analyzed recovery time in 594 patients with sports-related mTBI treated at their concussion clinic over a two-year period. (Mild traumatic brain injury and concussion refer to the same injury, but mTBI is the preferred scientific term.) All patients in the study were seen on average 8 days after injury. Seventy-seven percent were male. The average age was 20 years; about 7.5% of patients were children under age 12.

Patients were managed in a standardized assessment and management protocol, following current international guidelines (2017 Concussion in Sport Group [CISG] consensus statement). The protocol included an initial period of “relative rest” for 48 hours, with gradually increasing cognitive and physical activity. Patients were re-evaluated at 14 days post injury and then every two weeks until clinical recovery – defined by symptom scores, resolution of any abnormalities on initial examination, and demonstration of exercise tolerance.

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