Motor vehicle crash concussion mechanism displays a greater total number of symptoms and greater affective symptom severity but no neurocognitive differences compared with sport-related concussion mechanism
Previous research among adolescents has shown differences in symptoms and neurocognitive performance between sport-related (SRC) and motor vehicle crash (MVC) concussion mechanisms. Limited research has focused on young adults. The purpose of our study was to compare symptoms, balance, and neurocognitive performance between SRC and MVC mechanisms in young adults. Forty-three (58.1% female, age = 25.5 ± 3.2 years, days since concussion = 12.8 ± 12.7) and 26 (76.9% female, age = 24.1 ± 5.6 years, days since concussion = 12.6 ± 8.3) individuals with an SRC and MVC mechanism, respectively, participated. Primary outcome measures included the total number, severity, cluster (disorientation, migraine, lethargy, and affective) of post-concussion symptoms endorsed, Balance Error Scoring System (BESS), and CNS Vital Signs scores. Clusters are subgroups of symptoms used for targeted rehabilitation. We used independent t-tests and Mann–Whitney U tests to compare symptoms, BESS, and neurocognitive performance. Cliff’s Delta effect size was interpreted as negligible (<0.15), small (0.15–0.33), medium (0.34–0.47), and large (≥0.48). There were no group differences for any demographic factors or preexisting conditions (p-range = 0.112–0.991). Participants with an MVC mechanism reported a greater number of total post-concussion symptoms (p = 0.025, Cliff’s Delta = 0.32) and a more severe affective symptom cluster (p = 0.010, Cliff’s Delta = 0.37). There were no group differences for BESS or neurocognitive performance after correcting for multiple comparisons. The MVC mechanism resulted in a greater total symptom burden relative to the SRC mechanism. Medical practitioners and individuals experiencing a concussion should know that concussions are heterogeneous within and across various mechanisms.