Postconcussive and co-occurring psychological symptoms are not uncommon after sports-related concussion and are associated with functional impairment and societal costs. There is no evidence-based treatment targeting postconcussive symptoms in children and adolescents. The goal of this study was to test a collaborative care intervention model with embedded cognitive–behavioral therapy, care management, and psychopharmacological consultation. We hypothesized that patients in collaborative care would demonstrate greater reductions in postconcussive, depressive, and anxiety symptoms and improvement in functioning over the course of 6 months, compared with usual care control.
Patients aged 11 to 17 years with persistent symptoms ≥1 month after sports-related concussion were randomly assigned to receive collaborative care (n = 25) or care as usual (n = 24). Patients were assessed before randomization and after 1, 3, and 6 months. Groups were compared over time via linear mixed effects regression models.
Adolescents assigned to collaborative care experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in postconcussive symptoms in addition to functional gains at 6 months compared with controls. Six months after the baseline assessment, 13.0% of intervention patients and 41.7% of control patients reported high levels of postconcussive symptoms (P = .03), and 78% of intervention patients and 45.8% of control patients reported ≥50% reduction in depression symptoms (P = .02). No changes between groups were demonstrated in anxiety symptoms.
Orchestrated efforts to systematically implement collaborative care treatment approaches for slow-to-recover adolescents may be useful given the reductions in postconcussive and co-occurring psychological symptoms in addition to improved quality of life.