Child Concussion Side Effects May Last for Months: Study

When children suffer a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), the side effects could last for months, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from the University of Mexico report that white matter in the brains of children who suffered concussions appeared to still be changing months after a concussion seems to have disappeared, which could mean that children are susceptible to brain injuries from further impacts for a longer period of time than adults, according to findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience on December 12.

The study examined the brains of 15 children who suffered semi-acute mild TBIs and compared them with 15 control subjects. The children who suffered concussions showed evidence of cognitive dysfunction for up to two weeks after the accident. However, even after those symptoms disappeared, there were signs of changes in the white matter of their brains for up to three months.

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Long-term Effects of Child Concussions Unknown

The researchers do not know what these changes could have affected, and say future studies will be needed to determine long-term child concussion side effects. However, they did indicate that the severity of the changes in the children’s white matter was greater than changes seen in adults, suggesting that children are more susceptible to future injuries from a second concussion.

The findings raise questions about how long children should be kept out of physical activities following a first concussion, according to researchers involved in the study.

A traumatic brain injury can be the result of a blow to the head, a jolt or a mere bump on the head, many times leading to a concussion. These types of injuries are classified as head injuries that result in a disruption of the normal function of the brain.

Not all head injuries result in this disruption and are classified as traumatic brain injuries. A mild brain trauma causes a brief change in the disruption of the normal functioning of the brain, while a severe case will disrupt the functioning of the brain for long periods of time.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1.7 million people suffer from a traumatic brain injury every year and traumatic brain injuries contribute to 31 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States.

The side effects of head trauma can include cognitive problems, memory loss, loss of senses such as taste, smell and touch, depression, anxiety, and in some cases can change a person’s personality.

Lawsuits Highlight Concerns Over Sports Concussions

The latest findings come as increased attention is being focused on the long-term effects of head traumas, as the National Football League (NFL) faces a growing number of concussion lawsuits filed by former players who are exhibiting severe complications that are allegedly linked to repeated injuries to the head.

As details about the impact of concussions continues to emerge, concerns are also increasing about the safety of some childhood contact sports, such as football, rugby and soccer.

According to a recent report by the New York Times, the potential liability for sports injuries in profession, college, school and recreational sports leagues may lead to increased insurance premiums in cases where players suffer a high amount of concussions requiring medical treatment due to sports activities.


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