Study analyzes concussions in children, subsequent damage
After a concussion-causing blow, it takes about
12 days for the average child to recover.
But now a new study shows that after a second or third
concussion, it takes kids much longer to bounce back.
"Kids who'd had a previous concussion had twice the duration of
symptoms of those who hadn't had a previous concussion," said
Dr. Matthew Eisenberg of Boston Children's Hospital
Lead study author Eisenberg analyzed nearly 300 young athletes
who went to the emergency room with concussion. Symptoms like
headache, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating, lasted
longer when concussions occurred within a year of each other.
"We think that there's a window of time after the head injury in
which the brain is more vulnerable to a second head injury."
It may be that the brain hasn't fully recovered from the
original trauma. But the lengthened recovery time may be due to an
entirely different reason.
The brain must rest to recover. Doctors routinely tell concussed
patients to stay away from school and sports. No texting, no
computers and no video games. With each additional concussion,
doctors tell patients to rest even more.
But keeping kids contained like that can also lead to headaches
and other symptoms that doctors could misinterpret.
"If symptoms that are produced from that process are
misinterpreted, as being symptoms from the injury, then the answer
is, well keep resting," said Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher of the University
of Michigan Health System. "And what happens? The symptoms keep
Dr. Eisenberg's study uncovered another interesting piece of
information about concussions.
"Children who had lost consciousness actually recovered more
quickly from their concussion," said Eisenberg.
It's unclear whether that may be the result of the particular
patients in this study or another mystery in how the brain responds
Each child will respond differently to a concussion. and experts
say it's important to get a doctor's opinion on how to customize
care for each patient.
References and further information