Teen athletes who kept playing after the concussion take twice as long to recover than those who are immediately sidelined.
Young athletes who continue playing games after suffering a concussion take a relatively long time to recover.
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Researchers reached this conclusion after studying 69 American teens who suffered concussions while playing different sports like football, basketball, ice hockey and soccer. About half of those were immediately taken out of the game after sustaining injury while the other half continued to play for an average of 19 minutes. Those who kept playing took an average of 44 days to recover from concussion compared with 22 days for those who left the game immediately. That means playing with concussion doubles recovery time.
Both groups also underwent metal function tests to assess the effects of concussion on their brains. One test was taken eight days after the concussion, while the other 30 days later. Researchers found those who continued playing also did not score well on mental function tests.
“These results underscore the risks associated with continuing to play with a sport-related concussion and emphasize to athletes, parents, coaches and on-field clinicians the importance of timely recognition and identification of the signs and symptoms of concussion and immediate removal from play." Lead author Robert Elbin from University of Arkansas in Fayetteville said.
There are up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year in the United States. The injury is caused by a direct blow to the head and leads to altering the brain function. The symptoms of concussion may include dizziness, headache and nausea. If kids stop playing immediately after suffering a concussion and take rest, this will likely reduce the possibility of further stress on system and speeds up recovery. Yet many kids continue playing game.
Kids are usually not removed from the game on time because they delay reporting about their concussion.
“Kids are often reluctant to acknowledge a concussion. The kid may want a scholarship and want to go to college, or it could be that ‘Dad or Coach wants me to play.’ That’s when they’re going to start to be a little dishonest in what they’re truly feeling.” Dawon Dicks, a youth football coach told The New York Times.
The finding suggests that missing out on a few games does not end a kid’s sports career, in fact, taking immediate precautions after concussion will actually allow an athlete more opportunities to play in future.
“We know that, despite increases in awareness, some athletes continue to play with concussions because they do not want to be removed from a game," said Michael Collins, co-author and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
“This research indicates that knowing when to get treated can be critical to a faster recovery and we hope it will help those athletes, coaches and parents make better decisions about whether to keep playing.”