Concussion Recovery Time Among High School and Collegiate Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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Concussion diagnosis and management is made through the clinical exam using assessment tools that include self-report symptomatology, postural control, and cognitive evaluations. The specific timing of concussion resolution varies between individuals. However, despite a lack of research in concussion recovery, it is widely accepted that the majority of young adults will recover in 7–10 days, with youth athletes taking longer.
The purpose of this review is to directly compare the recovery duration among high school and collegiate athletes on symptom reports and cognitive assessments following concussion.
Data were collected from a literature search comprising high school or college athletes only. This included studies (n = 6) that reported symptom or cognitive performance recovery to the exact day.
High school athletes self-reported symptom recovery at 15 days compared with 6 days in collegiate athletes. Both college and high school athletes showed cognitive recovery at similar rates of 5 and 7 days.
This review only included articles that were directly related to concussed high school or college athletes. Additionally, athletes in the high school and college setting typically receive a battery of neurocognitive tests that may not be as sensitive or as comprehensive as a full neuropsychological exam.
The review finds that neurocognitive recovery rates are similar among high school and college athletes, while symptom reporting shows longer recovery time points in high school than in college.
Implications of Key Findings
An individualized and stepwise concussion management plan is important for proper concussion recovery regardless of age.
KeywordsSymptom Report Collegiate Athlete College Athlete High School Athlete Recovery Duration
Dr. Giza is supported by the Department of Defense, the Joseph Drown Foundation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Today’s and Tomorrow’s Children Fund, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC), UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT.
Conflict of interests
Richelle Williams declares no conflict. Tim Puetz declares no conflict. Steven Broglio declares no conflict. Chris Giza has received funding from many sources with interest in sports and concussions, and also serves on multiple advisory committees for sports organizations. For the purpose of this manuscript, these did not directly influence the creation of the study, but are included in an effort to have transparency and full disclosure.
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