Kids' Concussion Symptoms Can Linger After Injury
Emotional symptoms may last for weeks, researchers report
Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation at Miami Children's Hospital, said, "It takes longer than people think to fully recover from a concussion. My experience is that kids who still have symptoms two weeks after a concussion are going to have a very hard time, and it's going to be a struggle to get them to the point where they have no symptoms."
In addition to physical and mental rest, Kuluz believes in treating the symptoms. He prescribes ibuprofen and other medications to relieve headache, and melatonin and other drugs to help patients sleep.
Kuluz also recommends physical therapy to help children recover. Therapy includes working on balance and helping with any vision problems. "Therapy also helps you find your threshold for exertion. Many of my kids find that very helpful," he said.
He also recommends keeping children out of school for a couple of days after the injury and then gradually letting them get back to a normal routine.
"Keeping a child out of school for too long will have a negative effect on their mental health. They will become anxious, they'll become irritable, because they worry about falling behind," he said. "But if they go back too soon without teachers being aware of their condition, they can fail, and it happens a lot."
Kuluz tries to get kids back to school for half a day or as much as they can tolerate until they get better. Children should not start sports again until all symptoms have disappeared and then only gradually, he added.
If a child still has symptoms two or three days after a concussion, Kuluz recommends seeing a doctor who is experienced in dealing with concussions or going to a concussion clinic.