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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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New Developments on Kids and Concussions

Research into the effects of concussions on children’s brains is urging longer waiting periods for healing, while also allowing kids to return to normal activities sooner. The key, say experts, is for parents to respect these findings lest their children suffer fates far worse than those original concussions.

One new finding: children who suffer concussions can take at least three times longer than adults to recover, and those symptoms can be exacerbated by preexisting neurological issues (e.g. stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc.).

Kids and concussions
Kids who return to normal sporting activities even weeks after a concussion, are more likely to suffer from another concussion along with the long-lasting ill effects associated with them.

Recovery protocols also are changing, with physicians now suggesting kids can return to normal activities (school, for example) sooner than previously thought advisable.

“It used to be thought that rest was best for a concussion,” says Dr. Hallie Zwibel, director of Sports Medicine at NY Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Now we encourage them to┬áto get back to school after two days and progressively get more active, so long as symptoms don’t return or worsen.”

But Zwibel and other experts point out that this return to normal activity does NOT include a similar early return to athletics and other activities with concussive potential. Kids who suffer from a concussive blow while recovering from an previous concussion can suffer brain swelling and death.

Note, too, that previous studies have suggested some kids do not fully recover from a concussion for a staggering two years. And still other research has suggested that individuals who suffer from concussions show actual changes to the structure of the brain – that brains actually shrink as a result of concussions.

Girls at Particularly High Risk

The new research comes on the heels of earlier revelations that girls are more likely than boys to suffer from concussions; that girls can take at least twice as long as boys to recover from those injuries; and that 10-20% of those who experience a concussion will suffer lifelong consequences.

All of these findings are part of a growing body of research attempting to better understand the effects of concussions on children, particularly in sports. The concern of some experts, is that these lengthy delays in healing time are being rejected by kids and parents alike.

Frustrated at the wait, many kids insist they are ok to reengage in sports, often with their parents’ complicity. The results can be devastating, particularly if the child suffers another concussive blow to a steal-recovering brain.

“It’s important parents understand that symptoms persist in kids for about four weeks on average,” adds Zwibel. “This can be alarming and feel like a long time, especially compared to adults whose symptoms last closer to a week, but it is well within a normal recovery time.”

The bottom line: if your child suffers from a concussion, keep him or her out for as long as possible to ensure the best chance at healing the brain.



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