E-Pearl of the Week: Which Athletes are at Highest Risk for Sports-Related Concussion?

September 21, 2011


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Brought to you by the Resident and Fellow Section of Neurology®.

September 19, 2011

Which athletes are at highest risk for sports-related concussion and what are the predictors of speed of recovery?

Age, sex, and genetics influence both risk of sports-related concussion and speed of recovery. Women are at higher risk and tend to have more severe concussions. Younger (i.e. high school) athletes recover more slowly than older. The apolipoprotein E ?4 allele has been associated with both increased concussion risk and worse outcome. The majority of patients with a first-time sports-related concussion recover within 7 to 10 days, with 80% fully recovered within three weeks. Post-traumatic headache and the presence of cognitive symptoms predict a slower recovery. History of previous concussion increases an individual's risk of a subsequent concussion.


  1. Zafonte R. Diagnosis and management of sports-related concussion: a 15-year-old athlete with a concussion. JAMA 2011;306:79-86.
  2. Guskiewicz KM, McCrea M, Marshall SW, et al. Cumulative effects associated with recurrent concussion in collegiate football players: the NCAA Concussion Study. JAMA 2003;290:2549-2555.

Submitted by:
Amy Gelfand, MD. Dr. Gelfand is a member of the editorial team for the Neurology Resident & Fellow Section.

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