Clear kids with concussions before sports: report

Concussion Injury(Reuters Health) – Kids who suffer concussions should be cleared by a doctor before they start playing sports again, and parents and coaches should be aware that young athletes take longer to recover than college and professional athletes, according to a new report in Pediatrics.

The brains of kids and adolescents might be even more susceptible to the effects of a concussion than older athletes, the Council writes.

The symptoms, which might take a few hours to show up, include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, or depression and anxiety, the Council says. Some but not all athletes with concussions lose consciousness.

On the field, coaches and trainers should first rule out the possibility of a spine injury, according to the Council recommendations, then should test the athlete’s mental functioning by asking questions such as, “What team did you play last week?” Athletes that do show signs of a concussion should be monitored closely to make sure they don’t get worse.

If a concussion is confirmed, kids need to rest – both physically and mentally, the Council says. Because schoolwork and reading can make symptoms worse, parents should consider taking kids out of school while they recover and discourage their child from any other mental overexertion, including playing video games or watching TV.

Once kids have no more symptoms, they can slowly start being more active – as long as the symptoms don’t return. It might take up to ten days for all symptoms to disappear. Before kids start practicing sports again, they should be checked by a doctor to make sure they’re ready.

When kids return to play before they are healed from a first concussion, they risk second-impact syndrome: when a second blow to the head can mean serious brain injury.

“The younger athletes, their brain is still developing,” McLeod, of the Arizona School of Health Sciences said. “We don’t really know any potential long-term consequences. We just don’t know how these impacts may or may not accumulate over time.”

SOURCE: link.reuters.com/vax47n Pediatrics, online August 30, 2010.

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