Tara L Sharma DO Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at UWMC Seattle, WA 98133

Is It Safe To Fly After a Concussion?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tara L Sharma DO Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at UWMC Seattle, WA 98133

Dr. Sharma

Tara L Sharma DO
Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at UWMC
Seattle, WA 98133

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Flying can lead to reduced oxygen partial pressures and cerebral blood flow causing worsening clinical outcome in cases of moderate to severe TBI; however, not much is known regarding the clinical consequences of flying in individuals with concussion or mild TBI. Because many athletes suffer concussions during games, it is necessary to know if flying afterward may potentially hinder their ability to return to play.

Overall, we found no associated between air travel and increased symptom severity in both our entire cohort and the subset of football players.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Flying soon after concussion may not affect concussion recovery or severity of concussion symptoms.  Therefore, allowing athletes to fly shortly after concussion should not lead to prolonged recovery in most cases.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further studies should aim at evaluating concussion symptom severity during or immediately after flight. This would allow us to assess if symptoms are acutely exacerbated by the hypobaric effects of air travel. Another is to investigate if earlier flight times or long-haul flights can exacerbate symptoms or prolong recovery. This will better enable us to more accurately determine the optimal time to fly following concussion.

No disclosures

Sharma TL, Kerrigan JM, McArthur DL, et al. Flying After Concussion and Symptom Recovery in College Athletes and Military Cadets. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(11):e2025082. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25082


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