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Kids Concussion Study Reveals Long-term Effects of Mild TBI

March 09, 2012

A new study released last week shows that kids who suffer mild concussions may still feel the effects a year after the injury. The study , conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, revealed that while the majority of children recovered quite well from mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), as many as 20% of children had lingering effects like fatigue, headaches, forgetfulness and difficulty paying attention.

“Somatic” symptoms like headache, fatigue and balance problems were more likely to fade away, while cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness and attention problems tended to persist. The study didn’t address whether children continued to show symptoms for longer than a year, but any parent with an active child has cause for concern.

You might be hearing a lot about concussions in the news recently and if you’re paying attention it should be mildly alarming. More and more evidence suggests that even mild head traumas can have serious consequences years after injury and it’s certainly not just a problem for kids.

Just last season the NBA had no policy for benching a player if he suffered a concussion or any type of head injury. As long as he wasn’t dizzy, he could play. Thanks to studies like the one above, the NBA now requires that players stay off the court until they’re free of concussion symptoms for at least 24 hours.

Even so, more research needs to be done according to Chris Nowinski, Co-Director of Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the world's foremost center for traumatic brain injury research. Nowinski argues that just because a player may seem free of symptoms it doesn’t mean the brain has truly returned to normal. (See more of what Nowinski has to say about traumatic brain injury and the NBA here)

What do we know about concussions and mild traumatic brain injury?

Sure, there’s a lot we don’t know yet, but there’s also a lot we do. We know that both mild and major brain traumas cut off the circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain. Very soon after injury brain cells die off and brain tissue can become swollen. Over time, swollen brain tissue can spread and cause other areas of the brain to lose function.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to revive dormant tissues by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in damaged areas. Fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients may then be delivered to the damaged and dormant tissues, allowing neurons to reconnect and new cells to grow, even years after the initial injury.

More research is essential to understanding and successfully treating mild TBI, for athletes, children, soldiers and any other group who is prone to injury. HBOT is just one of a variety of treatment options available to reduce symptoms and decrease the chance of long-term effects, and it’s one that’s been proven to work.

At Washington Hyperbaric Therapy Center we regularly treat children with concussions and mild TBI. Click here to learn more about who we are and how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit patients with traumatic brain injury.

Should NBA players stay off the court after a concussion?  Are our kids safe on the sports field? Leave your comments below. 

Tags: Concussions, Kids, Sports Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury

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