Research raises important new questions about sports concussions in kids

Sports-related concussions continue to be a frequent topic in the media, and new research from Cincinnati Children’s sheds important new light on concussions involving younger athletes.

A study recently published by the journal Pediatrics raises questions about how soon student athletes who suffer concussions should return to the sports they play, or perhaps even to school. Led by Todd Maugans, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the medical center, the study reports that concussions seem to affect children differently than adults.

The bottom line medical conclusion is that impairment in brain blood circulation caused by a concussion lasts longer in kids than in adults. Some children with lasting symptoms may be returning to their sports – or according to some experts even school — sooner than they should.

The idea of keeping kids out of school and avoiding intense concentration until they have sufficiently recovered, i.e. cognitive rest, is not based on strong scientific evidence, according to Maugans. Still, he says brain rest does make common sense.

These children can, however, be at elevated risk of what is known as second impact syndrome, a rare but dangerous condition. Maugans stresses the importance of avoiding a second head injury during recovery. “When blood flow is low, another injury could be catastrophic,” he explains.

More information about the study is available in our latest edition of Pediatric Insights or by visiting the journal’s website at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/11/28/peds.2011-2083.abstract .

Nick Miller

About the Author: Nick Miller

Nick is the science writer at Cincinnati Children’s and a former journalist. A newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years, Miller developed a knack for writing about cops, criminals, courts, the environment, and – of all things – decommissioning nuclear weapons plants. Miller left journalism to become a media relations and communications manager in the aviation industry. The career change was just in time for him to personally experience one of the worst industry downturns in the history of powered flight. His focus today is uncovering and telling stories about the amazing science coming out of the research laboratories of Cincinnati Children’s. He thinks the world should know more about the work of the medical center’s dedicated scientists – people who spend countless hours pursuing the discoveries of today, which may become the cures of tomorrow. When not haunting the halls of the research foundation, Nick spends his time preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods. He also works with local organizations trying to build bicycle/pedestrian trails, preserve green space and promote active lifestyles

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