Football has started and cheerleaders are back flipping and flopping and unfortunately that means concussion “season” is beginning as well. Concussions are also seen during soccer which has geared up for select teams, fall lacrosse, and many other contact sports.
There is more and more data being published about concussions in children and adolescents, and most of the studies are showing that concussions are serious brain injuries and therefore needed to be treated appropriately.
A new study out of Boston Children’s Hospital showed that children and teens take longer to recover from a concussion if they have had one before. For the study, a concussion was defined to include any altered mental status within 4 hours of the injury, and headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and or balance problems, fatigue,drowsiness, blurred vision, memory difficulty or trouble concentrating. The most common symptoms noted were headache, fatigue, and dizziness. Of note, 20% of the kids in the study had neuroimaging, and all were negative.
While 5-7 years ago it was previously thought that kids recovered from a concussion within a week, we now know that recovery time for preteens and teens is longer than previously expected. Other risk factors for a prolonged recovery were being 13 years of age or older, not losing consciousness, and having a higher “post concussion symptom questionnaire score (RPSQ).
So, what does this all mean? It means both doctors and parents need to be very conservative in making sure that any athlete who has sustained a concussion has both physical and cognitive rest. In the study only 92% of people who had sustained a concussion were told to refrain from athletics. That number needs to be 100%.
There will be more and more studies on the way looking at whether there is a gap between when kids “feel better” and when they are truly physiologically recovered. Once again, this study verifies that a recurrent concussion is even more serious.
If ever in doubt that your child might have sustained what used to be called a “mild concussion”, be conservative and keep them out of play. That is never the wrong call.