Medical Disqualification Following Concussion in Collegiate Student-Athletes: Findings from the CARE Consortium

CARE Consortium Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The absence of evidence-based guidelines make medical disqualification (MDQ) following concussion one of the most challenging decision-making processes faced by sports medicine professionals. Objective: We aimed to compare premorbid and postmorbid factors between student-athletes that were and were not medically disqualified from sport following a concussion. Methods: Among 1832 student-athletes diagnosed with concussion within the CARE Consortium, 53 (2.9%) were medically disqualified (MDQ +) and 1779 (97.1%) were not medically disqualified (MDQ−). We used contingency tables and descriptive statistics for an initial evaluation of a broad list of premorbid and postmorbid factors. For those factors showing association with MDQ status, we calculated odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the odds of being MDQ + in the presence of the identified factor. Results: History of 2 (OR: 3.2, 95% CI 1.5, 6.9) or 3 + (OR: 7.4, 95% CI 3.4, 15.9) previous concussions; 1 + headaches in past 3 months (OR: 1.8, 95% CI 1.0, 3.2); immediate removal from play (OR: 2.4, 95% CI 1.2, 4.9); alcohol (OR: 2.6, 95% CI 1.2, 5.4), tobacco (OR: 3.3, 95% CI 1.1, 9.5), or marijuana use since injury (OR: 5.4, 95% CI 1.5, 19.0); as well as prolonged recovery due to mental health alterations (OR: 5.3, 95% CI 2.0, 14.1) or motivation/malingering (OR: 7.5, 95% CI 3.3, 17.0) increased odds of being MDQ +. The MDQ + group took longer to become asymptomatic relative to the MDQ− group (MDQ + : 23.5 days, 95% CI 15.8, 31.2; MDQ−: 10.6 days, 95% CI 9.5, 11.6; p ' 0.001). Conclusions: MDQ following concussion was relatively rare. We identified three patterns related to MDQ following concussion: (1) concussion and headache history were the only premorbid factors that differed (2) initial concussion presentation was more severe and more immediate in the MDQ + group, and (3) post-concussion recovery outcomes expressed the greatest differences between groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1843-1855
Number of pages13
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


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