Study: Preexisting Conditions in Athletes Can Complicate Concussion Diagnosis

In boys, the strongest predictor for symptom reporting was prior treatment of a psychiatric condition, followed by a history of migraines. In girls, the strongest predictors were prior treatment of a psychiatric condition, substance abuse, and ADHD. Interestingly, the weakest independent predictor of symptom reporting in either sex was a history of prior concussions.

“When managing a student athlete with a concussion, it has been widely noted that the athlete should be ‘asymptomatic’ at rest and with exercise before returning to sports, and sometimes athletes are kept out of school for prolonged periods while they wait for symptoms to resolve, which could have negative consequences for their academic, social, and emotional functioning and contribute to symptom reporting,” the authors wrote. “These results reinforce that ‘asymptomatic’ status after concussion can be difficult to define.”

The researchers stressed that consideration of a patient’s sex and preexisting health conditions could help prevent misinterpretation of concussion symptoms in student athletes.


  1. Iverson GL et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2374.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor