High altitude modulates concussion incidence, severity, and recovery in young athletes

Brain Inj. 2022 Mar;

Li, A. Y., Durbin, J. R., Hannah, T. C., Ali, M., Spiera, Z., Marayati, N. F., Dreher, N., Schupper, A. J., Kuohn, L., Gometz, A., Lovell, M. R., & Choudhri, T. F. .



BACKGROUND: High altitude may affect concussion, but prior studies are limited . We tested whether high altitude affects sport-related concussion (SRC) incidence, severity, and recovery. METHODS: Twenty-five thousand eight hundred fifteen baseline and post-injury Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing results were compiled from Florida and Colorado, low (27 m or 62 m) and high (1,640 m or 1,991 m) altitude locations, respectively. Incidence, severity, and recovery of injury were compared between altitudes. RESULTS: High altitude was associated with increased suspected concussion incidence (adjusted OR, 2.04 [95% CI, 1.86 to 2.24];P < .0001). However, high altitude was associated with lower concussion severity measured by Severity Index (SI) (adjusted OR, 0.42 [95% CI, 0.37 to 0.49];P < .0001). High altitude was associated with decreased recovery from post-concussive symptoms in the migraine (beta, -2.72 [95% CI, -3.31 to -2.13]; P < .0001), cognitive (beta, -1.88 [95% CI, -2.40 to -1.36]; P < .0001), and sleep symptom clusters (beta, -0.30 [95% CI, -0.52 to -0.08]; P = .007). Athletes with initial SI>/=8 showed prolonged neurocognitive dysfunction at high altitude (HR, 1.38 [95% CI, 1.06 to 1.81]; P = .02). CONCLUSIONS: High altitude was associated with increased suspected concussions and prolonged recovery but less severe initial injury.

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