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Repeat Concussions For Kids Might Require Longer Recovery

Update Date: Jun 10, 2013 09:36 AM EDT
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Doctors and researchers have continuously warned athletes, regardless of whether or not they are professional or young children, to fully recover after suffering a concussion. Based from previous findings, playing too soon after having a concussion could lead to several more health complications. Coaches and athletes today are supposed to ideally work together to determine when a player is healthy enough to play. Now, a new study suggests that the recovery period for younger athletes and even some young adults could be a lot longer than previously believed if they have a history of concussions.

According to previous research and professional medical advice, the average recovery period is around two weeks. However, based on data compiled from a new study, researchers stated that child and young adult athletes who suffered a second concussion within the same year averaged a total of 35 days before feeling completely healthy to return to the field.

"The most important piece of information that comes out of this study is, if you've had prior concussions, the 10-to-14-day [recovery] thing may be completely out the window," commented Dr. Paul Comper who is a concussions researcher from the University of Toronto and was not a part of this study. "For you, it might be a month."

In this study, the researchers from Boston Children's hospital and Harvard Medical School evaluated 280 children and young adults from the ages of 11 to 22. These participants had all entered the emergency room within days of suffering from a concussion with 68 of them having a history of concussions. Around 66 percent of the participants had concussions due to participation in sports, which included hockey, football, soccer and basketball. The participants were given up to six questionnaires that they were supposed to fill out over the course of the next few 12 weeks post emergency room visit. The questionnaires asked them about any symptoms that could be related to the concussion and when they stopped.

The researchers discovered that for the children and young adults that never had a concussion before, their average recovery time was 12 days. For the participants who have had a concussion or concussions in their past, it took them 24 days to recover. For the participants who had a previous concussion within the past year, recovery time increased to 35 days.

According to Time, around 144,000 children need emergency care due to concussions while millions of others seek care from their primary care physicians, trainers and specialists. The researchers stated that their findings should prompt parents and coaches to be more aware of their young children's recovery process. However, the researchers also acknowledged one huge limitation in their study. This limitation was the self-reports of the symptoms, provided by children and young adults. The researchers plan to confirm these findings by using scientific proof, which would involve blood test, urine test or brain scans.

The findings were published in Pediatrics.

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