Thursday, April 26, 2012

Study: Concussion symptoms in kids linger

Some children who suffer a concussion will display continued difficulties for many months, such as attention and memory problems, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"The results of the study suggest that the majority of kids who sustain mild traumatic brain injuries actually do quite well and don't have to have persistent symptoms after their injury," said lead researcher Keith Owen Yeates, director of Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Yeates noted a small but significant proportion of kids have symptoms that last as long as three to 12 months, especially following more severe injuries.
The average amount of time it takes kids at the center for sports medicine at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children with more severe concussions to get better is six weeks, said Wendy Novack, one of the center's physical therapists. The center focuses on giving children a period of "cognitive rest" -- no sports and no school in the aftermath of a concussion.
"If they continue to tax themselves, then the damage can be prolonged," Novack said. "Some kids come out of it quickly and some kids can take a really long time. They slowly progress back into school once it can be tolerated and we're seeing how their symptoms are once they go back to school."
Soccer is the leading cause of sports-related concussions among high-school girls, the study noted, and concussions from soccer and football are most commonly seen at Nemours/A.I. duPont .
Novack said the risk of a second concussion is greater following the first and her center is very conservative when it comes to getting kids back into sports. They work with kids by doing sport-specific drills -- testing their balance, coordination and timing -- slowly getting them back up to speed until their symptoms are gone. Headaches and visual disturbances, which can lead to difficulty reading, are the symptoms that seem to stick around longest, Novack said.

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