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Medical Experts Say Children Need More Rest after Concussions

Parents generally know that their children continue developing socially and intellectually well into their teenage years. This is a time when adolescents and teens begin finding their way in the world and start developing important critical thinking skills. However, according to a recent report from Ontario medical experts, not enough is being done to protect children and youth from head injuries that could have long-term, negative consequences.

One of the main findings in the report is that children need more post-concussion recovery time than adults. After looking at thousands of patient records and academic papers, the researchers found that 30 percent of young patients still had concussion symptoms a month after the initial injury.

Adults who have suffered concussions are commonly told to rest for about a week. However, given the potential for developmental damage caused by returning to activity too early, the researchers believe that children and youth should rest for as much as a month after a concussion. In this case, rest means refraining from all physical activity, including electronic gaming and television viewing.

To help doctors, parents, teachers and coaches better recognize and treat concussions, the authors of the report have created comprehensive guidelines believed to be the first of their kind. The guidelines, which have been compiled in a user-friendly, pocket-sized resource called the Concussion Recognition Tool, outline the symptoms of concussions and what to do after a concussion has been recognized.

Sports-related head injuries have received increased attention in recent years. According to the concussion guidelines, if a child has a single concussion symptom, then the child should be removed from play. Subsequent concussions could result in long-term injuries that follow the child for the rest of his or her life. However, the lead author of the study said that "only about one in four providers were using concussion tools to measure concussion symptoms severity and to track recovery."

The hope now is that the concussion guidelines will help standardize care to protect young people from long-term head injuries at a crucial time of social and intellectual development.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Children need more post-concussion rest than adults, report says," Allan Maki, June 25, 2014 

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