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Persistent concussion symptoms can be predicted

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Posted December 1, 2019

Concussions can be extremely scary, but they are very common. In fact, it is likely that multiple people who are reading this article have experienced a concussion at least once in their lifetime. It is especially scary, when children get concussions in sporting events, road accidents or just playing around. Now scientists from The University of Queensland looked into the symptoms of children concussions and what they mean for the brain.

Children often partake in sporting events that are dangerous for their brains. Image credit: Travis09Anarchy via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Concussions can happen in thousands of different scenarios. You can be playing basketball in one second and be flat out on the floor the next one. Concussions are common in sporting events, they are following kids after car crashes and play-time injuries. Scientists looked into what a concussion means for children and found that sleep problems, fatigue and attention difficulties are some of the persistent concussion symptoms in weeks following the accident. Worse still, this could be a sign of reduced brain function and decreased grey matter. 

Children are very tough. 9 out of 10 children recover from a concussion very quickly and do not have lasting symptoms. But that one out of 10 is left with persistent concussion symptoms. This means a variety of things, including skipped school time, reduced social interaction, alterations to their visual, motor and cognitive brain functions and many other issues. Children with the persistent concussion symptoms struggle to maintain focus, study and get back on track with school and their previous interests. It’s just not good. That is why it is very important to be able to predict what is the risk of the persistent symptoms as soon after the concussion as possible.

Dr Kartik Iyer, one of the authors of the study, said: “Identifying decreases in brain function can allow us to predict if a child will recover properly.This knowledge can help clinicians ensure a child receives targeted rehabilitation such as cognitive behaviour therapy, medication to improve sleep, or safe and new emerging therapies such as non-invasive brain stimulation to potentially reduce symptoms”.

And researchers were able to predict how decreases in brain function impacted recovery two months post-concussion with 86 % accuracy. This is great. The methodology could be further improved and in the future could help preventing the persistent concussion symptoms in both children and adults.

It is important to stress that all children that receive a traumatic head injury, should consult a doctor. Some exams need to be made immediately, to ensure that the child will recover fine and doesn’t have some hidden injuries that could be very dangerous.

 

Source: University of Queensland

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