Background Concussion is a commonly encountered injury associated with potential long-term sequelae. No previous studies have evaluated dizziness, neck pain and headache as potential risk factors for concussion.
Objective The objective of this study is to determine the risk of concussion in male youth hockey players with preseason reports of neck pain, headaches and dizziness.
Design This study is a secondary data analysis of a prospective cohort study examining the risk of injury associated with body checking among paediatric ice hockey players.
Setting Youth ice hockey in Alberta and Quebec, Canada.
Participants A total of 3902 11–14 year old males from 282 teams participated.
Assessment of risk factors Each participant completed a pre-season baseline demographic and injury history questionnaire. Preseason reports of neck pain, headache or dizziness were documented on the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool.
Main outcome measurements Diagnosed concussions were recorded during the season of play via a previously validated, prospective injury surveillance system.
Results A total of 178 concussions occurred during the studies, with 11 players sustaining two concussions. Incidence rate ratios were calculated using Poisson regression, adjusted for exposure hours, cluster by team and potential covariates. Dizziness was not a significant predictor of concussion. Individuals reporting a headache or neck pain at the start of the season were 1.48 (95% CI 1.02 to 2.14) and 1.69 (95% CI 1.16 to 2.44) times more likely to suffer a concussion during the season than those not reporting these symptoms. Individuals reporting any two of dizziness, headache and neck pain were 1.99 (95% CI 1.20 to 3.32) times more likely to sustain a concussion.
Conclusion Male youth athletes reporting headache or neck pain at baseline were at an increased risk of concussion during the season. From an injury prevention perspective, baseline testing may aid in identifying individuals at a higher risk for concussion.
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