Context

Supervised exercise challenges (SECs) have been shown to be safe and beneficial in the early symptomatic period after concussion. Thus far, most in-clinic SECs studied have included a form of basic aerobic exercise only. An SEC that also includes dynamic forms of exercise mimics all steps of a standard return-to-play progression and may enhance the detection of concussion symptoms to guide in-clinic management decisions.

Objective

To determine whether an SEC that includes a dynamic SEC (DSEC) uncovered symptoms that would not have been identified by an SEC involving an aerobic SEC (ASEC) alone in adolescent patients with sport-related concussion.

Design

Retrospective case series.

Setting

Multidisciplinary sport concussion clinic at a tertiary care center.

Patients or Other Participants

A total of 65 adolescent athletes (mean age = 14.9 ± 2.0 years, 72.3% males) who underwent an in-clinic SEC within 30 days of concussion.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Presence of pre-exercise symptoms and symptom provocation during the SEC were recorded, with exercise-provoked symptoms categorized as occurring during ASEC or DSEC.

Results

Of the total patient sample, 69.2% (n = 45/65) experienced symptom provocation at some point during the SEC. Symptoms were provoked in 20 patients during the ASEC, whereas 25 completed the ASEC without symptom provocation before becoming symptomatic during the subsequent DSEC and 20 completed the SEC without any symptom provocation. Of the 65 patients in the total sample, 46 were asymptomatic immediately before the SEC. Of these previously asymptomatic patients, 23.9% (n = 11/46) experienced symptom provocation during the ASEC, and an additional 37.0% (n = 17/46) remained asymptomatic during the ASEC but then developed symptoms during the DSEC.

Conclusions

The ASEC alone may not detect symptom provocation in a significant proportion of concussion patients who otherwise would develop symptoms during a DSEC.