Concussions affect adolescent patients’ quality of life more than fractures

Sports-related concussions (SRCs) in adolescent patients are associated with more significant impairments in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) than fractures, according to findings published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

The authors studied 135 patients with acute SRCs and another 96 with sports-related extremity fractures (SREFs). All patients were between the ages of 13 and 18 and completed a quick questionnaire. During the initial patient assessment, SRC patients “demonstrated significantly worse cognitive HRQOL and clinically meaningful impairments in school and overall HRQOL compared to the SREF patients.”

The researchers noted that these impairments were temporary and resolved in patients who receive recommended follow-up.

“Compared to SREF, adolescent SRC patients experience significantly greater impairments in cognitive, school, and overall HRQOL,” wrote author Kelly Russell, PhD, department of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada, and colleagues. “The degree of impairment experienced by adolescent SRC patients across HRQOL domains is affected by previous concussion, initial symptom burden, and length of clinical recovery.”

The research team also reported that these findings can help providers treat SRC patients moving forward.

“Although most pediatric SRC patients will attain neurological recovery within one to four weeks, an important proportion will experience persistent symptoms that contribute to delayed clinical recovery,” the authors wrote. “The results of this study suggest that initial management of adolescent acute SRC patients should focus on early interventions that help optimize physical, cognitive, and school functioning.” 

In addition, the team uncovered an association between “adequate school accommodations” and improved school HRQOL, which shows that adolescent patients should be provided with access to “return-to-learn programs that allow students to make a gradual return to school and help minimize cognitive-related symptoms.”