To compare symptoms in patients with physiologic postconcussion disorder (PCD) versus cervicogenic/vestibular PCD. We hypothesized that most symptoms would not be equivalent. In particular, we hypothesized that cognitive symptoms would be more often associated with physiologic PCD.
Retrospective review of symptom reports from patients who completed a 22-item symptom questionnaire.
University-based concussion clinic.
Convenience sample of 128 patients who had symptoms after head injury for more than 3 weeks and who had provocative treadmill exercise testing.
Subjects were classified as either physiologic PCD (abnormal treadmill performance and a normal cervical/vestibular physical examination) or cervicogenic/vestibular PCD (CGV, normal treadmill performance, and an abnormal cervical/vestibular physical examination).
Main Outcome Measures:
Self-reported symptoms. Univariate and multivariate methods, including t tests, tests of equivalence, a logistic regression model, k-nearest neighbor analysis, multidimensional scaling, and principle components analysis were used to see whether symptoms could distinguish PCD from CGV.
None of the statistical methods used to analyze self-reported symptoms was able to adequately distinguish patients with PCD from patients with CGV.
Symptoms after head injury, including cognitive symptoms, have traditionally been ascribed to brain injury, but they do not reliably discriminate between physiologic PCD and cervicogenic/vestibular PCD. Clinicians should consider specific testing of exercise tolerance and perform a physical examination of the cervical spine and the vestibular/ocular systems to determine the etiology of postconcussion symptoms.
Symptoms after head injury, including cognitive symptoms, do not discriminate between concussion and cervical/vestibular injury.