A new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics provides more evidence that teenage athletes who suffer concussions during play should be allowed to recovery fully before returning to the game. Continuing to play despite head trauma doubles recovery time for teen athletes and leads to worse short-term mental function, researchers have found.
The study involved athletes with an average age of 15 who had suffered a concussion while participating in various contact sports including football, soccer, ice hockey and basketball. Half of the teens studied continued to play after their head injury and took an average of 44 days to recover from their symptoms. The other half were immediately sidelined after suffering a head blow and took an average of 22 days to recover from their symptoms.
Players pulled from the game reported symptoms immediately following their trainer- or team physician-diagnosed concussion such as dizziness, headaches, mental fogginess, and fatigue. The players who immediately returned to the game did so for an average of 19 minutes. They also delayed reporting symptoms and were diagnosed later.
While mental function among both groups of athletes was similar, athletes who continued to play had worse scores on mental function tests performed eight days and again at 30 days following their concussions.
Youth athletics groups are beginning to adopt policies that better protect teens following head injuries during play. One main reason is to prevent a rare condition known as second-impact syndrome in which a second head trauma in a player still recovering from a concussion can cause potentially fatal brain swelling or bleeding.
Nearly three per 10,000 head injuries occur in athletes during high school games or practices. However, evidence suggests that as many as half of the concussions suffered by teenagers are not reported, likely because the athlete doesn’t realize he suffered a concussion or the players do not want to be sidelined because they don’t want to let down their teammates.
Source: Fox News Health