May 2013

Study links concussion to increased incidence of lower extremity injury

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Emily Delzell

College athletes who sustain a concussion are almost four times as likely as their counterparts who avoid the brain injury to subsequently injure lower extremity muscles, according to research presented at the 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine conference held in April in San Diego.

University of Florida in Gaines­ville researchers used injury data (2006-2011) from the university’s men’s football and women’s basketball, soccer, and lacrosse teams to identify 49 in-season cases of concussions in athletes who returned to play before the season’s end.

They looked at the 90 days after return to play for lower extremity injuries resulting in lost playing time, excluding contusions, fractures, and overuse injuries, and matched each period in concussed athletes with 90-day periods from the prior year in 90 athletes without concussions.

Concussed players had a 46% incidence of musculoskeletal injuries, compared with 17% among the control group. Injury severity wasn’t significantly different between groups.

The findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that neurocognitive factors may affect injury risk (see “Head Games: Neurocognitive contributors to noncontact injury,” February 2011, page 16).


Herman D, Jones D, Harrison A, et al. Concussion increases the risk of subsequent lower extremity musculoskeletal injury in collegiate athletes. Pre­- sented at the 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine conference, San Diego, April 2013.

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