Concussion-Recovery Trajectories Among Tactical Athletes: Results From the CARE Consortium.

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Faculty Learning Innovation Collaboration and Research

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Journal of athletic training

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CONTEXT: Assessments of the duration of concussion recovery have primarily been limited to sport-related concussions and male contact sports. Furthermore, whereas durations of symptoms and return-to-activity (RTA) protocols encompass total recovery, the trajectory of each duration has not been examined separately.

OBJECTIVE: To identify individual (eg, demographics, medical history), initial concussion injury (eg, symptoms), and external (eg, site) factors associated with symptom duration and RTA-protocol duration after concussion.

DESIGN: Cohort study.

SETTING: Three US military service academies.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: A total of 10 604 cadets at participating US military service academies enrolled in the study and completed a baseline evaluation and up to 5 postinjury evaluations. A total of 726 cadets (451 men, 275 women) sustained concussions during the study period.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Number of days from injury (1) until the participant became asymptomatic and (2) to complete the RTA protocol.

RESULTS: Varsity athlete cadets took less time than nonvarsity cadets to become asymptomatic (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.75, 95% confidence interval = 1.38, 2.23). Cadets who reported less symptom severity on the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, third edition (SCAT3), within 48 hours of concussion had 1.45 to 3.77 times shorter symptom-recovery durations than those with more symptom severity. Similar to symptom duration, varsity status was associated with a shorter RTA-protocol duration (HR = 1.74, 95% confidence interval = 1.34, 2.25), and less symptom severity on the SCAT3 was associated with a shorter RTA-protocol duration (HR range = 1.31 to 1.47). The academy that the cadet attended was associated with the RTA-protocol duration (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: The initial total number of symptoms reported and varsity athlete status were strongly associated with symptom and RTA-protocol durations. These findings suggested that external (varsity status and academy) and injury (symptom burden) factors influenced the time until RTA.

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