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Concussions in young athletes on the rise
Date:8/30/2010

ments, "What was striking in our study is that the number of sport-related concussions has increased significantly over a 10-year period despite an overall decline in participation. Experts have hypothesized that this may be due to an increasing number of available sports activities, increasing competitiveness in youth sports, and increasing intensity of practice and play times. However, the increasing numbers may also be secondary to increased awareness and reporting."

James Linakis, MD, PhD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician with Hasbro Children's Hospital and its Injury Prevention Center and is the senior author on the paper. He comments, "Our assessment highlights the need for further research and injury prevention strategies into sport-related concussion. This is especially true for the young athlete, with prevailing expert opinion suggesting that concussion in this age group can produce more severe neurologic after-effects, such as prolonged cognitive disturbances, disturbed skill acquisition, and other long-term effects."

Despite the apparent increase in concussions in youth athletes, there are no comprehensive return-to-play guidelines for young athletes. The researchers also note that there are no evidence-based management guidelines for the treatment of these injuries, while there is agreement that young children cannot be managed in the same way as older adolescents. Linakis, who is also a physician with University Emergency Medicine Foundation and an associate professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says, "Children need not only physical, but cognitive rest, and a slow-graded return to play and school after such injuries. As a result of this study, it is clear that we need more conservative guidelines for the management of younger children who suffer concussions." Return-to-play assessments might include such strategies as neuropsychological testing, functional MRI, visual tracking technology and bal
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Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean
njean@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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