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Pediatric athletes playing too soon after concussion injuries

Monday August 18, 2014
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Youth athletes who receive concussions are often returning to fields or courts prior to receiving medical clearance to do so, a recent study appearing in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found.

The study, published in July, looked at 150 pediatric patients ages 8 to 17 who were diagnosed with concussion during a one-year period. The study took place from November 2011 to November 2012 in a pediatric ED at a regional level 1 trauma center.

Among the patients diagnosed, 39% reported returning to their sport or other normal activities the same day. Among the 44% who didn’t return to activities for two weeks, 58% had not received medical clearance, while 35% were still symptomatic, the study stated. Of the 64% who returned to activities at four weeks 46% had not received medical clearance and 23% were symptomatic. The study also showed that pediatric patients with sports-related concussions had a greater chance of receiving medical clearance before returning to play than patients with non-sports-related concussions.

“Pediatric patients discharged from the ED are mostly compliant with concussion instructions,” the researchers concluded in the study. “However, a significant number of patients [return to play] on the day of injury, while experiencing symptoms or without medical clearance.”

After a first concussion, a child is more likely to sustain a second one, according to the Mayo Clinic. The clinic recommends parents take proper precautions by using appropriate and properly fitted protective equipment. But because helmets and mouth guards don’t prevent all concussions, the Mayo Clinic recommends parents also remind youngsters that even a mild bump can cause a concussion. Parents also should be aware of the symptoms of concussion, which include headache or feeling of pressure in the head, nausea or vomiting, double or blurry vision, memory problems, confusion, sleeping problems and mood changes.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, concussions likely are underreported by pediatric and adolescent athletes. Still, they result in 144,000 ED visits a year, with an estimated 3.8 million recreation and sport related concussions occurring annually in the U.S., according to the AAP. The academy reports that football results in the highest rates of concussion for high school males, while soccer and basketball have the highest rates for high school female athletes.

For more information visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24977765?access_num=24977765&link_type=MED&dopt=Abstract.


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