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Sports-Related Concussions on the Rise in Kids

Study Shows Hockey and Football Lead Youth Sports in Number of Concussions

Long-Term Concussion Risks continued...

The AAP wants to see the policy adopted nationwide for all children and teens playing sports.

Halstead says a week or 10 days on the sidelines is typical for most uncomplicated concussions, but many individual factors come into play.

"If a child has had more than one concussion or if the hit was particularly hard, it could be much longer," he says.

Parents and coaches also need to know how to spot concussion symptoms. Halstead says fewer than 10% of kids lose consciousness. Amnesia is more common but does not always occur.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Symptoms that may not manifest until days after the injury include memory or concentration problems, light and noise sensitivity, sleep disturbances, irritability, and depression.

The AAP recommends restricting both physical and mental exertion until symptoms have resolved. Halstead says schoolwork, playing video games, and even watching TV can all make symptoms worse.

Kids With Multiple Concussions

Finally, the AAP recommends that kids who have multiple concussions consider giving up contact sports for good.

But just how many concussions are too many to keep playing?

"There is no magic number to say you are done forever," Halstead says, adding that factors like the severity of the concussions, whether they occurred in a short period of time, and how long symptoms last all come into play.

For 10-year-old Mick Jones of Nashville, Tenn., the number was three.

When Jones suffered his first concussion in a car accident at age 8, he was told to stop playing football for a year. After he experienced two more concussions in a relatively short period of time, his dad, Kent, says he was done with contact sports for good.

"His doctor told me he would not give him a recommendation," Jones says. "He said the risk for long-term injury was just too great and I agreed. Kids have a long life to lead and it doesn't make sense to risk brain damage or worse just so they can play little league football."

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