Return-to-play following sport-related concussion(SRC) requires authorized clearance from a healthcare provider(HCP). Variability in HCPs and facilities where athletes seek care may influence return time.
Determine the initial examiner, HCPs that authorize clearance, and medical facilities authorizing clearance among high school student-athletes following SRC, and compare authorized clearance time by HCPs and medical facilities.
Prospective Cohort Study.
High school.
Student-athletes(n=16,001) with SRC participating in STATE-XXX High School Athletic Association(XHSAA)-sponsored athletics.
Frequencies of initial examiner and authorized clearance for each HCP(Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine(DO), Doctor of Medicine(MD), Nurse Practitioner(NP), Physician Assistant(PA)) and medical facility (Neurologist’s Office, Team Physician, Primary Care Physician or Pediatrician’s Office(PCP), Hospital, Urgent/Ready Care) for each SRC case. Kaplan-Meier curves and Peto tests evaluated differences in median time to authorized clearance between HCPs and facilities. Only cases with a follow-up authorized clearance date(80.3%, n=12,856) were included in authorized clearance and time to return analyses.
An athletic trainer was at least one of the initial examiners for 71.3%(n=11,404) of cases; 80.2%(n=12,990) had only one initial examiner. There was an association between initial examiner and medical facility providing clearance for athletic director(χ2=52.6, p≤.001, V=.06), athletic trainer(χ2=172.0, p≤.001, V=.12), coach(χ2=161.5, p≤.001, V=.11), DO(χ2=59.4, p≤.001, V= 07), and NP(χ2=10.0, p .03, V=.12). The majority(n=8,218, 63.9%) received clearance by an MD; 70.8%(n=9,099) were cleared at a PCP. Median time to authorized clearance varied by facility(Urgent/Ready Care: 7 days[4,11], Hospital: 9 days[6,14], PCP: 10 days[6,14], Team Physician: 12 days[8,16], Neurologist Office: 13 days[9,20]; p ≤ .001).
Clearance was frequently provided by an MD and at a PCP. Median time to return to unrestricted participation following SRC varied by HCP and medical facility. Future research should elucidate why differences exist and determine why athletes seek care at different medical facilities.

© by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Inc.