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Youngsters More Susceptible to Concussions, Need Greater Monitoring

By: Anapol Weiss

A new concussion study published online by JAMA Pediatrics has reported that in a small study of sports-related concussions among youth, high school and college American football players, return to play after a reported concussion was much earlier for younger players – often less than 24 hours.

The study looked at a total of 1,429 concussions reported by athletic trainers in more than 200 programs at the youth, high school and college level from 2012 through 2014. The data appears to have been skewed with the observation that concussions during games were most common in college players, followed by youth players and then high school players. The concussion rate reported in practices was much less for all three levels.

Most players at all levels were sidelined for at least a week. About 20 percent of high school players spent at least a month away from the sport, versus 16 percent of youth players and seven percent of college players. While less than one percent of high school players returned less than 24 hours after injury, five percent of college players and 10 percent of youth players returned in this amount of time.

The research findings suggest a need for more medical supervision including concussion diagnostics for children, the study’s lead author told ABC News. Much of the attention on sports concussions has focused on college-level and professional football. However, the authors explained that more research and prevention efforts are needed at all levels, especially for young players.

Anapol Weiss Shareholder Larry Coben, leader in the NFL concussion lawsuit and the first Chairman of the Institute for Injury Reduction, explains that this latest study continues to conflate data to suit other studies’ goals.

“While we do not question the data,” Coben said, “the only true conclusions that should be drawn from these data are as follows: younger players are more susceptible of suffering concussions and need greater monitoring during and after an injury.”

Symptoms that may prove a player has suffered a concussion include:

  • Appears dazed or confused

  • Is confused about assignment or position

  • Forgets sports plays

  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent

  • Moves clumsily

  • Answers questions slowly

  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)

  • Shows behavior or personality change

  • Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall

  • Can’t recall events after hit or fall

If you observe any of these signs, be sure to inform your medical provider.

In many cases, concussion management consists primarily of requiring the individual to rest, and sometimes restricting them from physical and cognitive exertion. During this time of recovery, it is important to avoid the activities that require excessive brain activation, which may include texting, spending a prolonged time on the computer, listening to loud music, and so on.

“Whenever an athlete is suspected of suffering a concussion, the last thing to do is let he or she return to sports in 24 hours,” Coben said. Instead, a strict medical protocol must be followed to ensure players do not sustain further injuries that could have life-threatening consequences.