A new study shows lingering symptoms often remain six months after a concussion.

The study, part of the Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in TBI (CENTER-TBI), involved a comprehensive analysis of 4,360 patients.

It found that functional limitations six months after a sports-related TBI, even mild cases, were common. This finding was consistent despite better recovery in mental health and post-concussion symptoms compared to non-sports-related TBIs.

The researchers also found that individuals suffering from sports-related concussions are equally likely to experience prolonged physical symptoms as those with concussions from other causes. This revelation challenges previous assumptions about the recovery trajectory in sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

While individuals with sports-related TBIs generally had better mental health and quality of life outcomes, the physical implications remained concerning. 

Approximately 31 per cent of those with mild sports-related TBIs and negative imaging findings still experienced some degree of disability six months post-injury. This statistic shows the need for effective clinical follow-up and support, irrespective of the injury's perceived severity.

Despite similar rates of incomplete recovery in both groups, the sports-related TBI group exhibited lower anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder rates. Also, nearly half of the sports-related TBI group reported incomplete functional recovery at six months.

The study's findings challenge the often overly optimistic view of sports-related TBI outcomes. 

It shows that even mild TBIs in sports contexts can result in significant long-term physical impairments, a fact that warrants greater attention and tailored clinical interventions.

While advancements in concussion management have improved mental health outcomes, the persistent physical challenges post-sports-related TBIs call for a reassessment of current practices and a more holistic approach to patient care and rehabilitation.

The study is accessible here, as is a linked editorial.