Number of Medical Complaints Before Concussion May Help Predict Recovery Time


“Good information for you to have when dealing with someone who hit their head and has lots of varied complaints afterwards. Being sensitive to the sensations of your body is unhealthy and associated with my conditions. Recent research using electric shocks to produce pain show changes in nerve behavior. Other evidence implication hyper-somatization with fibromyalgia.” Bill Chesnut, MD

To go back to New Health News:

Number of Medical Complaints Before Concussion May Help Predict Recovery Time

Released: 20-Apr-2016 7:05 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: American Academy of Neurology (AAN)

Newswise — MINNEAPOLIS – Athletes who have medical complaints, like aches and pains, that have no known physical cause may take longer to recover after a concussion, according to a study published in the April 20, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Called psychosomatic symptoms, such complaints are often described as psychological distress expressed as physical illness.

“The goal of this study was to determine how physical complaints before and after concussion play a role in recovery,” said study author Lindsay D. Nelson, PhD, assistant professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “We found the greatest predictor of recovery after a concussion was the severity of early post-concussion symptoms. But somatic complaints before injury also play an important role, either by possibly enhancing how a person experiences the injury or affecting their reporting of post-concussive symptoms.”

For the study, 2,055 high school and college athletes were evaluated before the start of the season for balance, thinking and memory skills and psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and psychosomatic problems such as feeling faint or dizzy, nausea or upset stomach or pains in chest or heart. For the psychosomatic problems, the athletes rated how often they had been bothered by these symptoms during the last week. About 50 percent of the participants had at least one of 6 symptoms, and the other 50 percent had no symptoms.

During the season, 127 athletes suffered a concussion. Those athletes were then reassessed within the first 24 hours of injury and then again at 8, 15 and 45 days after the injury.

Of the concussed athletes, 61 percent played football, 24 percent played soccer, 6 percent played lacrosse, 3 percent were wrestlers, 3 percent played hockey, 2 percent played rugby and 1 percent played field hockey. Of the group, 80 percent was male.

On average, concussion symptoms lasted five days, with 64 percent of concussed athletes saying their symptoms were gone after one week and the vast majority, 95 percent, saying they no longer had symptoms after one month.

After concussion, those athletes who had reported pre-injury psychosomatic symptoms had longer recovery times, recovering at a slower rate than those who had no psychosomatic symptoms. For people with symptoms, about 80 percent had recovered within about 20 days of the concussion. For those with no symptoms, about 80 percent had recovered within about 10 days.

Those who had more severe physical symptoms after their concussions, like headache and balance issues, recovered at a slower rate than those with less severe symptoms.

“That these athletes were relatively healthy physically and psychologically highlights the relevance of psychosomatic symptoms and the role they play in recovery even in healthy people,” said Nelson. “Our hope is our study will lead to further research, because identifying those at risk for prolonged recovery is critical to developing early interventions that improve outcomes for people who suffer concussions.”

The study was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Learn more about concussion at, where you can access the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline, QuickCheck app, and other resources.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 30,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

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Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 2011 Feb;61(2):82-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1270518. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

[Article in German]

Franke GH1, Ankerhold A, Haase M, Jäger S, Tögel C, Ulrich C, Frommer J.


The BSI-18, an abridged version of the Brief Symptom Inventory of Derogatis, contains the 3 six items scales Somatization, Depression, Anxiety, and the Global Score (GSI). In a sample of N=638 psychotherapeutic patients, reliability and validity were proven. Reliability of the 3 scales was good: Somatization α=0.79, Depression α=0.84, Anxiety α=0.84, and GSI α=0.91. The postulated three-factor structure was proven sufficiently using confirmatory and explorative factor analyses. The questionnaire separated different patients groups. Judgments of the therapists corresponded well with the self-rating behavior of the patients. In conclusion, the psychometric evaluation of the BSI-18 resulted in persuasive evidence for its reliability and validity. The loss of information, as a result of item reduction, is acceptable analyzing large samples; in cases of individual analyses, the SCL-90-R is advised.