According to a recent study, children and young adults recover more slowly from a concussion if they have had concussions before.
The study, conducted by Boston Children’s Hospital and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that patients ages 11 to 22 who came to the emergency department with a repeat concussion took longer to heal than those with a first-time concussion.
A concussion is generally defined as any hit to the head that causes a change of consciousness or leaves the person feeling dazed, confused, or forgetful; experience symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness or problems with balance.
“It’s no great surprise that more head injuries are worse for you, but this study clearly shows an association between having multiple or recent concussions and having a longer recovery,” said Thomas P. Drake, MD, of the department of Neurology and Development at Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper. “This concept is what the ‘return to play’ protocol for children returning to sports is based on. In this protocol, also known as the progressive exertion protocol or the Zurich protocol, a child athlete may not return to a team activity where there is a risk of a subsequent injury, until we can ensure that he or she is no longer experiencing symptoms, either at rest or with exertion.”
Among the findings of the study, patients who had not had a previous concussion took 12 days on average to recover from their injury, while those with previous concussions took 28 days. Recovery from a second concussion within a year took an average of 35 days. About 60 percent of the injuries were sustained while playing sports.
“Many children bounce back from concussions within a few weeks, but some take months,” said Dr. Drake. “Prompt treatment for concussions and proper protection while playing sports are two recommendations I have for any student athlete.”