NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Some major changes are coming to how concussions are treated.
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez also reports that new findings have revealed why children’s concussion symptoms may last longer than adults.
The standard approach to concussion recovery has been complete brain rest. That meant no school for children, no TV, reading, video games, and certainly no return to sports until all the symptoms went away.
Now, physicians are learning that may not be the best approach.
Grace Kamvakis has a mean spike, but volleyball has not always been her game. The 15-year-old grew up playing soccer. Three years ago she was twice hit in the head with a soccer ball. Her concussion symptoms lasted six months.
“Headaches, obviously. Sensitivity to light. Sensitivity to noise. Dizziness… I couldn’t use computers or anything,” the teen said.
“She had a headache for a long time. It was very hard to watch that in your child,” Grace’s mom, Heidi Kamvakis added.
That long recovery isn’t surprising in light of new research in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association that finds children under 13 experience concussion symptoms much longer than older teens and adults.
“Up to four weeks and longer than adults. Adults, more like two weeks,” Dr. Hallie Zwibel explained.
Dr. Zwibel, the director of sports medicine at the New York Institute of Technology, says total rest after suffering a concussion is no longer recommended, as long as symptoms don’t return or get worse.
“We found that more than 48 hours of strict rest has actually negative consequences. So getting children, adolescents, adults back in their activities… school, work is actually producing better outcomes.”
Recent recovery guidelines stress a gradual return to brain and physical activities. If concussion symptoms return or get worse the patient should return to lighter activity until symptoms clear and then try to increase activity again.
Athletes however, should not compete if they are experiencing symptoms. For lingering problems, vision and balance rehab can help.
That’s what got Grace back on her feet.
“Obviously I wanted to be on the field, but it’s better to just sit out and get better,” the teen said.
She still worries about suffering another concussion, but says being able to use her hands playing volleyball makes her feel a bit safer. The study also finds children with ADHD, depression, or anxiety may have concussion symptoms that last even longer.