10% of Kids Play Sports a Day After Concussion

May 9th 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor

Retail clinicians should know that concussion symptoms and consequences aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Retail clinicians should know that concussion symptoms and consequences aren’t one-size-fits-all.

A study recently published inJAMAPediatricsinvestigated and compared sports-related concussion outcomes in youth (ages 5 to 14 years), high school, and collegiate football athletes.

Self-reported symptoms and time before getting back to play were used as indicators, and 1429 total sports-related concussions were analyzed during the 2012-2014 seasons.

Using electronic health records and coordination with athletic trainers, the researchers uncovered that 10% of youth football players resume playing less than a day after experiencing a concussion. Meanwhile, just 4.7% of college players and 0.8% high school players returned within 24 hours.

The researchers also found that symptom prevalence grouped by migraine, cognitive issues, and sleeping difficulty was significantly higher among high school and college athletes compared with youth athletes.

The CDC estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually, though concussion outcomes among youth are particularly under-investigated. The consequences of unaddressed concussions may include long-term inflammatory responses and altered neurotransmitter function, which can lead to serious mental health issues.

American Headache Society (AHS) President David W. Dodick, MD, believes that sports-related concussions among youth are “a grossly underreported medical problem.”

“Headache, especially persistent headache, is a primary symptom of traumatic brain injury,” stated Dr. Dodick in an AHS press release. “That means that it falls to athletic trainers, family doctors, neurologists, headache specialists and sports medicine experts to do a better job at diagnosing concussion and becoming leaders in the effort to keep injured young people off the playing fields after they sustain injury.”

Given thatan increasing numberof parents taking their children to retail clinics to obtain routine sports physicals, retail clinicians should take the opportunity toadviseparents and athletes of all ages about the dangers of not properly addressing a concussion. In one such initiative, Walgreens added concussion prevention education to its back-to-school and sports physical protocol in its Healthcare Clinics in 2013.

“These physicals represent a valuable opportunity for families to meet with a trusted health care professional who can screen patients for undetected health conditions, identify children that may be at risk for injury, and provide important health and wellness information and advice,” stated Heather Helle, divisional vice president of Walgreens’ consumer solutions group, in a press release. “The inclusion of concussion education and awareness as part of our annual physicals follows our recent overall expansion of health care services, and is another way we’re providing comprehensive care as part of our mission to help people get, stay, and live well.”

The current study comes just as the CDC released an unrelated report that found the number of children experiencing concussion-injuries on the playground is on an upswing.

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