In October 2016, world leaders in the field of sport-related concussion (SRC), of which a large proportion are Canadian, met in Berlin to develop the latest statement on our current knowledge of the science of SRC. As a quick review, an SRC is a traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical force transmitted to head causing functional disturbance. It does not require a direct blow to the head. Some of the new developments and highlights from the statement include:
– Assessment of mental status, cognitive functioning, sleep/wake disturbance, ocular function, vestibular function, gait, and balance is recommended
– Insufficient evidence for investigations such as EEG or MRI
– A new Sports Concussion Assessment Tool Version 5 (SCAT) was developed
– A brief period (24–48 hours) of cognitive and physical rest is appropriate for most patients
– Subsymptom threshold activities and submaximal exercise are encouraged (as long as symptoms are not exacerbated)
– Cervical spine rehab is recommended for neck pain/headaches
– Vestibular rehab is recommended for dizziness
– Return-to-play and return-to-school/work protocols can advance in parallel
– Children and adolescents should not return to sport until they have successfully returned to school
– Physiological dysfunction may be delayed relative to clinical recovery, suggesting that using a ‘buffer zone’ of a graduated return to activity/return to play progression before full return to contact risk may be appropriate
– Preinjury mental health problems and prior concussions appear to be risk factors for persistent symptoms.
– Greater acute and subacute symptoms are a consistent predictor of worse clinical outcome.
– The teenage years might be a particularly vulnerable time for having persistent symptoms—with greater risk for girls than boys.
– Strongest evidence exists for disallowing body checking in youth ice hockey
– Strong recommendations to mandate helmet use in skiing/snowboarding
– Mixed evidence for mouthguard but there may be an overall protective effect
The top 5 key messages from the 5th International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport
- McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvořák J, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport—the 5thinternational conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. Br J Sports Med 2017;51:838-847.
- Shields, MD, CCFP, Sport and Exercise Medicine Fellow, University of Ottawa
Advisor: Taryn Taylor, MD, CCFP (SEM), Dip Sport Med