Reported on Tuesday in Science Codex was the findings of a study done in Canada about the effects of concussions on children, adolescents and adults. Not surprising the study to be published in Brain Injury, showed that all three groups are equally afflicted by the concussion injury. This is new information because it was thought that with the younger brain after the initial effects of the injury they (children) could recover quicker. This is mainly due to the ratio of white and gray matter in the brain itself. Even more peculiar is the difference in sensitivity; adolescent brains more sensitive than the other two.
Principle investigator Dave Ellemberg used both standard neurocognitive testing procedures as well as electrophysiological measurements to determine the overall impact and sensitivity of concussed individuals;
These kinds of injuries mostly affect their working memory – the brain function that enables us to process and store short-term information and that is essential for activities such as reading and mental calculation. “The frontal regions of the brain are more vulnerable to concussions. These areas oversee executive functions responsible for planning, organizing and managing information. During adolescence, these functions are developing rapidly which makes them more fragile to stress and trauma,” explained Dr. Ellemberg, who is a professor at the university’s Department of Kinesiology.
Nevertheless, the research also shows that a first concussion will result in six months to a year of neurophysiological side effects for adolescents, adults and children alike. In addition to the working memory, the ability to sustain attention and focus is also affected.
SIX MONTHS TO ONE YEAR!!! This is much longer than most have been saying and furthers Dr. Bennet Omalu’s statements that a concussed individual should be shelved for at least three months. As with all studies we have reported here, there are some questions regarding control, and repeatability. However, this information is coming from an independent group, therefore should be looked at with a bit more keen eye.
One thing not to do is overreact to this information, as with most current research it is just finding its way to the surface. Further investigation is always warranted;
According to the Professor, these results force us to re-evaluate our understanding of sport-related concussions. “The situation is more serious than we think,” says Ellemberg. “Contrarily to professional athletes, youngsters don’t have a medical doctor and a protocol in place for becoming active again. However, for me, their brain is more important than the brain of a famous football player. It needs to be protected with the right diagnostic tools and an adapted framework. Obviously, concussions are a part of sport, but we can reduce their occurrence by limiting dangerous situations. Youngsters must pursue their activities in a secure environment where people know how to treat concussions.”