Sport-related concussive convulsions: a systematic review

Objectives: The incidence of sport-related concussion (SRC) continues to rise. Presentations of concussed athletes vary from subtle symptoms to notable signs. Between the 4th and 5th iterations of the Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) guidelines, concussive convulsions were removed as a modifying factor, but little evidence or discussion supported this change. While considerable research exists regarding post-traumatic epilepsy in moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, convulsions following SRC are relatively understudied. There is no clear consensus on the prevalence of convulsions, seizures, or the management of these entities following SRC. The aim of this review was to assess the state of the literature, describe the management trends of concussive convulsions and post-traumatic epilepsy in the SRC population, and provide evidence and guidance for the management of these athletes.

Methods: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were adapted for a review of heterogeneous literature. English-language titles and abstracts published prior to June 2017 were searched systematically across four electronic databases. Primary peer-reviewed journal articles were included if they reported individuals of any age or gender who suffered a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury that was associated with seizure activity during a sports/recreational event.

Results: Of 852 records screened for review, 58 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Eight studies with 130 athletes total met the inclusion criteria. Of these individuals suffering a SRC convulsion or a post-concussive seizure, 0.8% received antiepileptic medications, 24.6% underwent electroencephalography, and 30.8% underwent brain imaging. The mean time until the participant returned to play was 14.8 days. Only 6.9% developed long-term sequelae over a mean follow-up time of 3.3 years.

Conclusions: The current literature describing concussive convulsions and post-concussion seizure in sports is limited. A void of primary literature concerning the management of patients with concussive convulsions or seizures and the long-term sequelae among this population remains. However, the evidence available suggests that concussive convulsions do not need to be a primary modifying factor in the management of SRC.