Cincinnati Children's Blog

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: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/11/28/peds.2011-2083.abstract .

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