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First concussion did not increase the risk of subsequent concussion when patients were managed appropriately
  1. Ian Shrier1,
  2. Alexendre Piché2,
  3. Russell J Steele2
  1. 1 Centre for Clinical Epidemiology, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ian Shrier, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1E2, Canada; ian.shrier{at}

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Some studies suggest that having a concussion during athletic activities increases the risk (as expressed through ‘rate ratios’) of subsequent concussion,1 potentially because of incomplete recovery after brain trauma. However, these analyses are flawed for causal interpretation because participants with one concussion likely have different inherent risks compared with those with no concussions.2 The issue is clinically important because patients may decide to return to their sport if their risk of concussion is simply due to the body type, sport and their personal style of play (ie, unchanged compared with prior to the injury) versus being at twice or thrice the risk of the first concussion because the concussion has caused permanent damage.

To address whether a first concussion causally increases the risk of subsequent concussion, we analysed data from Cirque du Soleil (CdS) artists who had two or more concussions.2 3 We provide methodological details in the online supplementary appendix. The analysis in this paper is a matched analysis comparing risk of first concussion to risk of second concussion in the same individuals, thus controlling for different inherent risks similar to case-cross-over designs.4 These matched strategies assume that the increased risk for a …

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  • Contributors IS developed the idea, analysed the data and led the writing of the manuscript. AP helped write programming code and edited the manuscript. RJS helped write programming code, supervised the analyses and edited the manuscript. All authors contributed to the design, analysis and writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests IS is the consulting medical director for Cirque du Soleil but was not paid for the work related to this manuscript.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement We will make summary data available but do not have the authority to release raw data because it is owned by a private company, and it might allow someone to identify individual participants.