Young athletes with prior concussions took an average of 35 days to “get back to normal” after subsequent concussions, according to a new study published in the June 10, 2013, online issue of Pediatrics. It previously was thought that two weeks was enough time for recovery.
The new study included 280 youth, age 11 to 22, who came to the emergency room within a few days of having a concussion. About two-thirds of them were injured playing sports, most commonly hockey, soccer, football and basketball.
After going home, kids filled out up to six questionnaires about their symptoms over the next 12 weeks, and reported the last day they had any concussion-related problems.
Of the 235 kids who completed the study, 68 had a history of concussion.
On average, participants who had never had a concussion before took 12 days to recover from their head injury. That compared to 24 days among those with at least one past concussion, and 35 days if that prior concussion had been within the last year, the study team reported Monday in Pediatrics.
That finding, the lead author said, gives parents and doctors “even more reason for caution” when deciding how long a child should be kept out of sports or school after a head injury.
“Even after symptoms have improved and even after these neuropsychological tests have returned to normal, there’s still a vulnerability that can lead to a much more severe second concussion,” Dr. Matthew Eisenberg, from Boston Children’s Hospital, told Reuters Health.