Removal from play reduces concussion recovery time in athletes



Sport-related concussion (SRC) recovery time can be reduced if athletes are removed from game participation, according to R.J. Elbin, PhD, of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and his associates.

In the prospective study, 95 athletes sought care for an SRC at a concussion specialty clinic between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1, 2014. The athletes were divided into two groups: those who continued to play after experiencing signs and symptoms of an SRC and those who were immediately removed from play. The played group took longer to recover (44 days) than did the removed group (22 days) (P = .003).


Post hoc analyses revealed that the played group demonstrated significantly worse verbal and visual memory, processing speed, and reaction time, and higher symptoms (all P less than or equal to .001), compared with the removed group at 1-7 days. From 8 to 30 days post injury, the played group demonstrated worse verbal memory (P = .009), visual memory (P less than or equal to .001), processing speed (P = .001), and greater symptoms (P = .001), compared with the removed group.

The study also showed that athletes in the played group were 8.80 times more likely to experience a protracted recovery, compared with athletes in the removed group (21 days or longer) (P less than .001). Athletes participated in a variety of sports including football, soccer, ice hockey, volleyball, field hockey, rugby, basketball, and wrestling.

“This study is the first to show that athletes who continue to play with an SRC experience a longer recovery and more time away from the sport,” researchers concluded. “These findings should be incorporated into SRC education and awareness programs for athletes, coaches, parents, and medical professionals.”

Find the full study in Pediatrics (doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-0910).

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