High school athletes do not take significantly longer to recover from concussions than their collegiate counterparts, negating the need for separate injury-management protocols for the two groups, says a study published online last month in the Journal of Athletic Training.
The authors set out to determine whether age differences between high school and college athletes affected the length of concussion recovery. They analyzed data from 621 concussed athletes—405 from high school, 216 from college—most of whom played football. Each concussed athlete was evaluated immediately after the injury; two to three hours after; and one, two, three, five, seven, and 45 or 90 days after, and the results were compared with baseline evaluations.
When it came to their rates of recovery, both groups showed “significantly elevated symptoms” through the fifth day after the injury. In one test, however—the Standardized Assessment of Concussion—both high school and college athletes performed significantly worse than the control group through the second day after the injury, but only high schoolers performed worse through the third day.
The authors say the finding suggests high schoolers need an extra day or two to cognitively recover in comparison to their college counterparts, although both groups “demonstrated a relatively rapid cognitive recovery within a few days of injury.”
A version of this article appeared in the April 13, 2016 edition of Education Week as Sports Injury