Youth concussion usually ends well

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Although there is increasingly widespread concern and research about the effects of concussion, what do we know about the recovery from concussion for most child athletes? Much prior work has focused on adults or relied upon self-report regarding recovery from symptoms.

In this volume of The Journal, Kirkwood et al report symptom outcomes prospectively after youth soccer-related concussion. Although their sample size is small, both boys and girls are included and ages range from 8 to 17 years. The investigators also used a prospective cohort design and include healthy and orthopedic injured controls. By 10 days after injury, concussed athletes did not differ from the matched controls by report of either parent or child, though children did differ from the orthopedic injury group by parent report (Figure). At 30 days following injury, no differences were apparent among groups by either parental or child report. The authors add to a research void regarding recovery time from concussion among children and younger adolescents. Moreover, their prospective design is a strength, as are usage of 2 control groups and assessment of symptoms across 6 time points.

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Figure

Parent-reported post-concussive symptoms over time.

Pediatricians can safely conclude that almost all youth concussions resolve quickly, in almost 10 days. We are tempted to conclude, as Shakespeare opined centuries ago, “all’s well that ends well.” That may well be the case. But, we do not yet know fully the long-term effects of concussions or repetitive head impacts. As is often said, but clearly true here, further research is warranted.

Article page 207

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