Study for teen concussion victims warns caution for classwork

This week's best of, a website devoted to health and safety issues in youth sports.

  • Teens who continue to engage in full cognitive activity after sport-related concussions take from 2 to 5 times longer to recover on average than those who limit such activity, a new study has found. As MomsTeam Senior Editor Lindsay Barton reported, the findings, published Monday online in the journal Pediatrics, provide important support for current concussion guidelines and the opinion of experts recommending that children and adolescents refrain from activities in the first three to five days after injury that tax the brain, such as playing video games, text messaging, reading and doing homework, followed by a gradual return to cognitive activity, so long as it does not trigger a return of symptoms. The findings add to a small but growing body of empirical evidence on the benefits of such rest in children and adolescents, but they also suggest that complete abstinence from cognitive activity, such as sitting in a darkened room, are likely unnecessary, and don't speed recovery.
  • While the majority of youth athletes with a sport-related concussion will spontaneously recover quickly following a period of cognitive and physical rest, most within 7 to 10 days, in some cases symptoms persist for weeks, months and years beyond the initial injury. For student-athletes suffering from post-concussion syndrome, additional therapies then may need to be considered. A review of some of the new therapies reveals that some have been shown to help some suffering from post-concussion syndrome, but parents need to be cautious about claims of efficacy, as a recent crackdown by the Food and Drug Administration on companies claiming that their dietary supplement can help speed recovery from concussion, and a new study showing no beneficial effect from hyperbaric oxygen therapy show.
  • A history of concussion is associated with more than a three-fold increased risk of a current diagnosis of depression, according to a new study by researchers at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington. The study, reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, adds to the growing body of evidence linking concussion and depression. Researchers found a much stronger association between brain injury and depression than in previous studies, but the dearth of information about the timing of the depression diagnosis in the data made it difficult to draw conclusions as to whether concussion was a direct cause of the depression, said lead author Sara Chrisman, an Acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. The results, suggest Dr. Chrisman, that adolescents with a history of concussion be more closely monitored for depression, especially since it is associated with significant mental and social problems in teens, including school failure, obesity, substance abuse and death by suicide.
  • The lack of a systematic approach to making return-to-play decision-making has resulted in a high degree of variability among sports medicine doctors in weighing different factors, with some factors considered important by athletes, teams, coaches, and parents viewed as not important by doctors in the RTP decision, according to a new study reported in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers at Stanford, McGill, and the University of Calgary found in a survey of experienced team doctors from around the globe that they appropriately placed the most weight in their RTP decisions on medical readiness and risk of reinjury, and often, but not always, considered as unimportant external, non-medical factors, such as pressure from coaches, parents, sponsors, and even the media or whether the injury occurred in the pre-season or during the playoffs.
  • Speaking of return to play, the current culture of youth sports, said Dr. Darren Johnson, head of sports medicine at the University of Kentucky, can cloud a parent's judgment to the point that she doesn't want to hear the truth about the seriousness of her child's injury. With a family's entire life revolving around sports, no wonder, he says, that an injured athlete and his parents are driven by a desire for a quick recovery so they can return to their normal routine and circle of friends. But, as Dr. Johnson wrote, it is one thing when the injury he is treating is minor, and the child can return to play without risking permanent impairment later in life, but something else entirely when it is an ACL injury with knee cartilage damage suffered by a 14-year-old girl whose parents are sure she is the next Abby Wambach or Lindsay Vonn.

-- and NFL Evolution

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