Researchers at University at Buffalo suggest that accurately diagnosing whether a person is suffering from a concussion or an injury to neck or balance system, is difficult as many of the symptoms are common to all of the three conditions.
The research was based on responses about symptoms from 128 patients - some of whom were professional athletes - who were being treated at UB's Concussion Management Clinic in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. It was published online ahead of print last week in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. The purpose of the study was to determine how to distinguish between concussion injury and neck injury, based on symptoms.
"Based on our research, we conclude that some patients who have been told they've suffered a concussion, and whose symptoms persist for several months may actually have suffered a neck injury, rather than a concussion, or in addition to a concussion," says John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor in the UB Department of Orthopaedics and senior author. He embarked on the study based on his experience as director of the UB Concussion Management Clinic. "I'd seen enough patients in our clinic, some previously diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, who continued to experience symptoms even after passing our treadmill test, which indicates full recovery from concussion," says Leddy, who sees patients through UBMD, the physician practice plan of the UB medical school. "The symptoms for both conditions are so nonspecific that it's really hard to make a diagnosis based on them," Leddy continues, "so we had to find another way to discriminate between them." To determine which of the respondents had probably sustained a concussion and which more likely had a neck injury, the UB researchers used the graded treadmill test developed by Leddy and co-author Barry Willer, PhD, UB professor of psychiatry.