If your teenager experiences a blow to the head from sports or an accident like falling off a bike, you should take him to the doctor immediately. According to a study published in the journal Brain Injury, teenagers were found to be more vulnerable to the effects of concussions than were younger children or adults.
The area of the brain most affected by concussions – the frontal lobe – is responsible for short-term memory and activities like reading and math. Because of the rapid development of the brain during the teen years, it is even more susceptible to injury, and adolescents who experience a concussion during this time suffer greater symptoms.
The effects of a concussion, such as the inability to maintain attention and focus, can last for six months to a year in teenagers. Symptoms may not always be evident immediately following a concussion; it may talk a couple of days or even weeks before they are noticeable. That’s why it’s important for children and teens to be seen by a doctor immediately whenever a concussion is suspected. The doctor can assess the patient with to make a diagnosis and determine a plan of care, including a timeframe for returning to playing sports.
The study was conducted by a professor of neuropsychology at the University of Montreal. His team divided up 96 athletes who had suffered concussions into three groups – children ages 9-12, adolescents ages 13-16, and adults – and compared them to similar people who had not had a concussion. The study was the first of its kind to measure the impact of sport-related concussions on children and to compare the effects of the trauma on three different age groups.
So even if your child insists he or she feels OK after a head injury, call your pediatrician and make an appointment as soon as possible. Because of the potential for long-term effects of a concussion, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.