His advice to young concussion patients: "Stay out of school the first week after a concussion if you're still having symptoms. It's called 'cognitive rest.' No schoolwork, no text messaging, no video games, no homework. Nothing requiring intense concentration."
It's important to get enough rest to avoid a second concussion before the first has resolved, Maugans explained.
"If blood flow is low, another injury could be a catastrophe," said Maugans, who also is a pediatric neurosurgeon at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "'Second injury syndrome' can occur in children and young adults after two seemingly minor concussions and result in serious brain damage or death."
Fortunately, it's very rare, he said, with one or two cases reported a year.
To document the link between concussion and reduced blood flow, "we need a larger study for cause-and-effect," said Maugans, whose next study will include many more children and test them with a form of ultrasound "that can be done in seconds while the child is sitting on the bench."
A second Pediatrics study found that computerized concussion testing is used in about 40 percent of schools that employ athletic trainers. Significantly, in those schools, athletes with concussions were less likely than others to return to play within the next 10 days.
"Ideally, it's administered before the start of the season," said study author Dr. William Meehan, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Children's Hospital Boston. "An athletic trainer tells kids how to proceed -- they sit in front of a computer for about 30 minutes. Now you have an idea of how the kid functions before being at risk of injury, and you can compare. Still, the majority of high school athletes don't have baselines."
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