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Orthop J Sports Med


BACKGROUND: Recent studies have suggested increased rates of lower extremity (LE) musculoskeletal injury after a diagnosed concussion, although significant heterogeneity exists.

PURPOSE: To examine the current body of research and determine whether there is an increased risk for LE musculoskeletal injury after a concussion and to identify populations at an increased risk.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: A systematic review of current literature using MEDLINE and PubMed databases was performed. Keywords included concussion, athlete, lower extremity injury, and return to sport. Inclusion criteria required original research articles written in the English language examining the rate of LE injuries after a diagnosed concussion.

RESULTS: A total of 13 studies involving 4349 athletes (88.1% male and 11.9% female; mean age, 19.8 years) met inclusion criteria. Athletes were classified as high school (46.1%), collegiate (17.0%), or professional (36.9%). Of the 13 studies, 4 demonstrated an increased risk of LE injury within 90 days of a diagnosed concussion (odds ratio [OR], 3.44; 95% CI, 2.99-4.42), and 6 revealed an elevated risk of injury within 1 year of concussion (OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.73-2.84). Increased risk was seen in professional (OR, 2.49; 95% CI, 2.40-2.72) and collegiate (OR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.96-2.16) athletes compared with high school athletes (OR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.89-1.05). A stepwise increase in risk of sustaining an LE injury was observed with multiple concussions, with increasing risk observed from ≥2 (OR, 2.29; 95% CI, 1.85-2.83) to ≥3 (OR, 2.86; 95% CI, 2.36-3.48) career concussions.

CONCLUSION: An increased incidence of LE injuries was observed at 90 days and 1 year after the diagnosis of a concussion. Higher levels of competition, such as at the collegiate and professional levels, resulted in an increased risk of sustaining a subsequent LE injury after a diagnosed concussion. These results suggest an at-risk population who may benefit from injury prevention methods after a concussion. Future studies should focus on identifying which injuries are most common, during what time period athletes are most vulnerable, and methods to prevent injury after return to sports.

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