The research found most of the children with head injuries, about 85 percent, suffered from mild trauma. Some of those had deficits at three months, but few suffered lasting loss of social and daily life activities.
But lasting effects were seen in those with mild injury who also suffered a brain hemorrhage and those who suffered a moderate or severe brain injury. These kids faced obstacles in day-to-day life, school activities and sports at the end of the two-year research period.
The more seriously injured children had a lower quality of life than children undergoing active treatment for cancer, the researchers said.
Children in the control group had no significant deficits after two years, according to the research.
Kids with significant problems after two years are unlikely to make big gains in their condition, but researchers are still collecting data on youths in the study, said Rivara.
The data showed that boys were more than twice as likely as girls to sustain head injuries, and that the youngest (under 4 years old) and the oldest (15 to 17 years) were most likely to sustain moderate to severe injuries.
Of the total number of severe injuries, more than half were suffered by 10- to 17- year-olds, which another expert attributed to organized sports.
"This is the age group where they're playing more sports," said Dr. Gail L. Rosseau, a neurosurgeon in the department of neurosurgery of NorthShore University Health System in Chicago.
Rousseau called the study "well-designed" and said it pointed to the need for more states to enact legislation similar to Washington's Zachery Lystedt law, which was designed to protect student athletes. It was named after a high school student who sustained permanent brain damage playing football.
She said laws in 30 states and Washington, D.C. require that players with symptoms of concussion, a mild form of brain inju
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