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Vision Problems In Young People With Sports Concussion Linked To Longer Recovery

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In children and young people with sports-related concussion, the presence of a condition known as vestibulo-ocular dysfunction is associated with a prolonged recovery.

That´s according to researchers in Canada who conducted a retrospective review of 101 patients.

Specialists at the Canada North Concussion Network in Manitoba set out to discover:

  • the prevalence of vestibulo-ocular dysfunction (VOD) among children and adolescents with acute sports-related concussion (SRC) and post-concussion syndrome (PCS); and
  • whether VOD is associated with the development of PCS in this patient group.


Researchers analysed the records of all patients aged 19 years or younger who were diagnosed with sports-related concussion at a multidisciplinary paediatric concussion programme between September 2013 and July 2014.

In all, 77 patients had sustained the injury within the past 30 days and were diagnosed with acute sports-related concussion. The remaining 24 patients continued to have three or more symptoms of concussion for longer than one month and were diagnosed as having post-concussion syndrome.

Patients were assessed for VOD, which was defined as “more than one subjective complaint of intermittent blurred or double vision, visual disturbance, gaze instability or difficulty focusing, dizziness, difficulty reading, or motion sensitivity” in conjunction with more than one abnormality in eye movements or vestibulo-ocular reflexes identified by a neurosurgeon during a physical examination.

A significant proportion of patients in the acute SRC group had VOD (29%, or 22 patients). In the post-concussion syndrome group the proportion was even higher – 62.5%, or 15 patients, were found to have VOD.

The researchers also found that the risk of developing post-concussion syndrome was statistically significantly higher in patients with acute SRC who had VOD. This was still the case when controlling for other known predictors for developing post-concussion syndrome such as the severity of the injury and the presence of migraine headaches.

Reporting their findings in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, the authors said that this was important because children and young people with post-concussion syndrome are at greater risk of developing other chronic health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and migraines, as well as poor school performance.

Early identification of risk factors for post-concussion syndrome can lead to early specific therapeutic interventions, they said.