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A Simple Test for Outcome from Pediatric Concussion

Predicting Slow-to-Resolve Cases can Facilitate Earlier, Better Intervention

Pediatric sports related concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury the symptoms from which include headache, confusion, memory loss, and dizziness. Typically, these subside within a month of the event, but some cases do not resolve for much longer periods, and a simple test may now be able to predict these. Advance indication of slow-to-resolve cases can assist clinicians in referral of patients for targeted therapies that can improve outcomes. A research team from Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colorado, reports that subpar performance in the Romberg balance test can help identify concussion sufferers who will experience prolonged symptoms. The Romberg test assesses neurological function by measuring the ability to balance with feet together and eyes closed. Abnormal performance is defined as inability to balance or exaggerated body movement. The findings were reported earlier this week in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

In the study, medical records of 351 children and adolescents who suffered a sports related concussion were examined. The median duration of symptoms was 23 days. The researchers applied statistical analysis to pinpoint relationships between symptom duration and a panoply of evaluation variables that were recorded by the subjects’ attending clinicians. After adjustment for patient variables that included age, sex, concussion history, and mental health prior to injury, abnormal performance on the Romberg balance test was found to be the only variable to independently associate with prolonged concussion symptom duration. Lead author David Howell, PhD, commented, “Our results provide further evidence for the importance of including some type of balance assessment in the evaluation of adolescents with a concussion. Specifically, we were interested to find that balance assessments may provide a tool for clinicians to use in concussion prognosis.”

Read about the findings.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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