Clinical Scenario: Collision sports are often at higher risk of concussion due to the physical nature and style of play. Typically, initial clinical recovery occurs within 7 to 10 days; however, even this time frame may result in significant time lost from play. Little has been done in previous research to analyze how individual game performance may be affected upon return to play postconcussion. Focused Clinical Question: Upon return-to-play clearance, how does sport-related concussion affect game performance of professional athletes in collision sports? Summary of Key Findings: All 3 studies included found no significant change in individual performance of professional collision-sport athletes upon returning to play from concussive injury. One of the studies indicated that there was no difference in performance for NFL athletes who did not miss a single game (returned within 7 d) and those who missed at least 1 game. One study indicated that although there was no change in performance of NFL players upon returning to play from sustained concussion, there was a decline in performance in the 2 weeks before the diagnosed injury and appearing on the injury report. The final study indicated that there was no difference in performance or style of play of NHL athletes who missed time due to concussive injury when compared with athletes who missed games for a noninjury factor. Clinical Bottom Line: There was no change in performance upon return from concussive injury suggesting that players appear to be acutely recovered from the respective concussion before returning to play. This suggests that current policies and management properly evaluate and treat concussed athletes of these professional sports. Strength of Recommendation: Grade C evidence exists that there is no change in individual game performance in professional collision-sport athletes before and after suffering a concussion.
Corey P. Ochs, Melissa C. Kay, and Johna K. Register-Mihalik
Brittany M. Ingram, Melissa C. Kay, Christina B. Vander Vegt, and Johna K. Register-Mihalik
Clinical Scenario: Current studies have identified body checking as the most common cause of sports-related concussion in ice hockey across all divisions and levels. As a result, many hockey organizations, particularly in youth sports, have implemented rules making body checking to the head, face, and/or neck illegal. Such a rule, in Canada, makes age 13 the first age in which individuals can engage in body checking. Despite these changes, effectiveness of their implementation on the incidence of concussion in Canadian male youth ice hockey players remains unclear. Clinical Question: What is the effect of body checking policy changes on concussion incidence in male youth ice hockey players? Summary of Key Findings: Of the 3 included studies, 2 studies reported a decrease in the incidence of concussion once a body checking policy change was implemented. The third study showed an increase; however, it is important to note that this may be due, in part, to increased awareness leading to better reporting of injuries. Clinical Bottom Line: Current evidence supports a relationship between body checking policy implementation and decreased concussion incidence; however, more research is needed to understand the long-term implications of policy change and the effects in other leagues. In addition, further data are needed to differentiate between increased concussion incidence resulting from concussion education efforts that may improve disclosure and increased concussion incidence as a direct result of policy changes. Strength of Recommendation: Grade B evidence exists that policy changes regarding body checking decrease concussion incidence in male youth ice hockey players.