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Incidence, Clinical Course, and Predictors of Prolonged Recovery Time Following Sport-Related Concussion in High School and College Athletes

  • Michael McCrea (a1), Kevin Guskiewicz (a2) (a3) (a4), Christopher Randolph (a5), William B. Barr (a6), Thomas A. Hammeke (a7), Stephen W. Marshall (a3) (a4) (a8), Matthew R. Powell (a9), Kwang Woo Ahn (a10), Yanzhi Wang (a10) and James P. Kelly (a11)...


Sport-related concussion (SRC) is typically followed by clinical recovery within days, but reports of prolonged symptoms are common. We investigated the incidence of prolonged recovery in a large cohort (n = 18,531) of athlete seasons over a 10-year period. A total of 570 athletes with concussion (3.1%) and 166 controls who underwent pre-injury baseline assessments of symptoms, neurocognitive functioning and balance were re-assessed immediately, 3 hr, and 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 45 or 90 days after concussion. Concussed athletes were stratified into typical (within 7 days) or prolonged (> 7 days) recovery groups based on symptom recovery time. Ten percent of athletes (n = 57) had a prolonged symptom recovery, which was also associated with lengthier recovery on neurocognitive testing (p < .001). At 45–90 days post-injury, the prolonged recovery group reported elevated symptoms, without deficits on cognitive or balance testing. Prolonged recovery was associated with unconsciousness [odds ratio (OR), 4.15; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.12–8.15], posttraumatic amnesia (OR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.00–3.28), and more severe acute symptoms (p < .0001). These results suggest that a small percentage of athletes may experience symptoms and functional impairments beyond the typical window of recovery after SRC, and that prolonged recovery is associated with acute indicators of more severe injury. (JINS, 2012, 18, 1–12)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Michael McCrea, Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, 9200 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53226. E-mail:


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