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Concussion Rates Soar Among Younger Kids
Date:8/30/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- High school-age athletes are more likely than younger kids to have sports-related concussions, but the rate of such injuries in both groups is on the rise, a new U.S. study suggests.

From 1997 to 2007, emergency department visits for concussion in kids aged 8 to 13 playing organized sports doubled, and the number of visits increased by more than 200 percent in older teens, according to the report.

In related news, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines on what to do about sports-related concussions, with advice for both parents and physicians.

The study and guidelines are published online and in the September print issue of Pediatrics.

Awareness of concussions is increasing, according to Dr. Mark Halstead, who co-wrote the new recommendations. Unlike the thinking of a generation ago, concussions aren't something to "shake off," said Halstead, an assistant professor of pediatrics and orthopaedics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"A concussion is an injury to the brain that is typically not a structural injury but a functional injury," he explained. He tells parents to think of it as a computer bug. "If a computer gets a virus, the computer doesn't function appropriately."

Parents should know that "no athlete should go back to play on the same day they have their concussion. We recommend athletes who have a concussion be evaluated by a medical professional before they return to play," Halstead said.

There is no medication or treatment proven for concussion, other than rest, he added. That means resting the body and the brain, he noted.

Even homework, television and video games may worsen symptoms after a concussion, according to the AAP guidelines, which say that the young athlete may require a temporary leave of absence from school. The child should also be
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