Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Concussions Might Affect Kids and Adults Differently

In Kids, Injury From a Concussion May Last Longer Than Expected
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 29, 2011 -- A blow to the head might injure a child’s brain differently than it would an adult’s, a new study shows.

On the one hand, that’s good news, researchers say, because the brain damage caused by concussions appears to be less serious in kids than it is for adults.

But the study also found that the changes in a child’s brain often outlast symptoms like decreased reaction times, memory and concentration problems, irritability, insomnia, and fatigue.

That means coaches and parents might be clearing kids to return to their sports while they’re vulnerable to reinjury.

“Those may be the kids who are at greatest risk for more severe effects of concussion,” says researcher Todd A. Maugans, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Kids who suffer a second sports-related concussion within a month or two of the first could experience a rare but devastating phenomenon called second-impact syndrome, Maugans says. In second-impact syndrome, the brain swells rapidly in response to repeated head injuries. It is sometimes fatal.

“We need to better refine that timetable for recovery,” Maugans says.

Understanding Concussions in Kids

The study, which is published in the journal Pediatrics, used imaging techniques to watch what was happening to the brains of a dozen kids ages 11 to 15 after they experienced sports-related concussions.

Researchers expected to see changes in the kids’ brains similar to what happens when adults are dealt a bad blow to the head. Those changes include damage to nerve cells or chemical abnormalities that suggest decreased brain function.

“We didn’t find that at all,” says Maugans.

Instead, they saw changes in blood flow.

In two of the youngest children, blood flow in the brain increased after a concussion. But in most children, blood flow decreased significantly.

In the case of a 13-year-old wrestler who had the most severe symptoms of the group, blood flow to his brain dropped by 60%.

It’s still unclear how circulation changes happen or even what they mean, but researchers found they can last long after symptoms are gone.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration