You are here

CARE Consortium: Health-related quality of life following concussion in student-athletes

Concussed athletes record worse scores on exams that gauge physical health-related quality of life, study suggests

How is an athlete’s physical quality of life affected in the wake of a concussion? Michelle Weber, a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia Concussion Research Laboratory, led a group of researchers who examined that question via a study published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. Weber and her colleagues interrogated test results from student-athletes participating in the NCAA-Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium study who had been diagnosed with concussion.   

What did the study find?

In comparison to their baseline results, athletes who suffered a concussion generally performed worse on exams that gauged physical health-related quality of life when those athletes were examined within two days of the injury, when they were asymptomatic and when they returned to play. Athletes’ scores on these assessments returned to baseline when they were reexamined six months after the injury. Scores related to depression were worse in the days after an injury but eclipsed baseline levels as recovery progressed.

What are the implications?

“Although the observed declines in health-related quality of life were generally small, brief and potentially not clinically meaningful, measuring health-related quality of life following a concussion is important for patient-centered, whole-person health care,” Weber noted.

What’s next?

Weber and her team urged further research in the area, with a particular focus on efforts to improve physical quality of life after a student-athlete suffers a concussion and to assess how demographic factors such as age, gender and ethnicity may affect health-related quality of life. “Additionally, research should focus on examining the perceived physical deficits following injury and if they too lead to an increased risk for secondary musculoskeletal injury once student-athletes return to the athletic field,” Weber wrote.