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Sports, Concussion, Repeat: Researchers See Troubling Pattern

12 Jun, 2019

By: Michael Popke

A new study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 6 children ages 5 to 15 who has a concussion will go on to experience a repeat concussion within two years.

Several characteristics of the initial concussion predict an elevated risk of subsequent concussions, including an increased number of symptoms and longer recovery time. The findings recently were published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Through a review of electronic health records, researchers identified 536 children who had an initial visit for a concussion at a CHOP location between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, and reviewed their records for a two-year follow-up period. They found that 8 percent of patients were diagnosed with a second concussion within the first year, and 16 percent had a second concussion within two years, including 3 percent who were diagnosed with two additional concussions. The risk of repeat concussion among 12- to 15-year-olds was almost twice as high as that of 9- to 11-year-olds, but this increased risk may simply be related to their increased exposure to sports and recreational activities.

“Knowing a child’s increased risk for repeat concussions can help families make better decisions about their child’s health,” study author Christina Master said in a statement. Master is co-lead for CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention concussion research program and a sports medicine pediatrician at CHOP. “We know that having a lot of symptoms or a long recovery time from your initial concussion are associated with a subsequent concussion within a couple of years. By looking at the number of symptoms and length of recovery, clinicians can give families data on which to make informed decisions about future risk.”

 “This is one of the first studies to quantify the risk of a subsequent injury given a first concussion,” Matt Breiding of the CDC added. “We hope that clinicians will pay particular attention to these findings, since repeat concussions can have real consequences for a young person’s health and development. The results of this study can aid a clinician in discussing the risk of further injury with patients and their parents.”

More CTE news…

  • College athletes with insomnia or chronic sleepiness might be at higher risk for concussion, a new study at the University of Arizona suggests. “Among 190 NCAA Division I athletes who completed surveys for the study, the chance of getting a sports-related concussion during the next year was 14.6 times higher for those with both insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness than for those who were well rested,” reports Reuters Health. “For the study, researchers had the athletes complete an assortment of questionnaires that have been scientifically proven to accurately measure respondents’ sleep quality and insomnia severity. They also collected the athletes’ demographic information (including age, sex, sport and self-reported sports-related concussion history) and their injury data for at least a year after the survey, as extracted from medical records. Overall, 19 of the athletes sustained head injuries during the study period. … [M]oderate-to-severe insomnia more than tripled the athletes’ risk of concussion, and excessive daytime sleepiness — even just a few days a month — more than doubled it.”
  • The use of protective headgear among high school soccer players does not result in fewer or less-severe sport-related concussions compared to players who wear no headgear at all, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The study, recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is the first of its kind to provide rigorous, scientific evidence to guide clinical recommendations about the use of protective headgear to reduce sports-related concussions in young soccer players, researchers say. “Decisions about the health and well-being of our student-athletes should always be based on strong scientific evidence instead of strategic marketing messages designed to sell products,” Tim McGuine, principal investigator of the study and a distinguished scientist in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said in a statement. “While it may seem reasonable to assume that using headgear in a contactsport like soccer is better than wearing no headgear at all, our study proves that assumption may not be accurate.” For more details, click here.
  • Virtual reality to the rescue: SyncThink, creators of eye-tracking technology with a virtual reality platform, is joining the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium — a NCAA-Department of Defense alliance that is the largest-ever study of concussions and repetitive head impacts in college athletes and military service members. So far, $52 million has been invested in the study. As information technology website ZDNet.com reports, “SyncThink’s Eye-Sync device is a wearable VR headset with eye-tracking technology that measures impairments and can ‘assess ocular-motor synchronization deficits and vestibular balance dysfunction,’ according to a spokesman. Abnormal eye movement is one of the most common deficits after a concussion occurs. … Eye-Sync received FDA clearance in 2016, and the company has been making inroads into high school, collegiate and professional sports like football ever since. The platform uses a series of 60-second assessments to objectively measure eye movements to identify impairments. It can help trainers and medical staff recognize the symptoms of concussion more accurately than traditional observation methods.”
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