Effects of concussions outlast symptoms, UK prof finds; another study says they affect thinking of teenagers more than others

A University of Kentucky assistant professor has found that the effects of a concussion may last longer than the symptoms, a finding that could influence how and when athletes are allowed to get back into a game.

Scott Livingston (UK photo), director of the UK Concussion Assessment Research Lab, used an electrophysiological measurement to arrive at his conclusion. With 18 college athletes, he placed electrodes on a limb while a magnetic-stimulating device was put over their head. They then received a brief pulse of magnetic stimulation to their brain. The amount of time it took for the athlete’s limb to receive the response from the brain after the stimulation was then recorded. Nine of tyhe athletes had gotten concussions in the past 24 hours and nine had not.
The athletes were evaluated for 10 days, based on self-reported symptoms such as memory loss, headache and confusion; a computerized neurocognitive test; and the electrophysiological measurement. While symptoms from the concussion were greater within 24 to 72 hours after the injury and lessened over time as measured by self-reporting and neurocognitive testing, electrophysiological measurements show physiological changes increased as symptoms decreased.
Further investigation is needed, “especially to assess how long the disturbances in physiological functioning continue after those initial 10 days post-injury,” Livingston said. “But in the meantime, sports medicine personnel caring for concussed athletes should be cautious about relying solely on self-reported symptoms and neurocognitive test performances when making return-to-play decisions.” (Read more)

Meanwhile, a study at the University of Montreal has found that “Concussions affect the thinking of teenagers more than they do that of adults or children,” reports Nancy Shute of National Public Radio. “But all three age groups show lasting problems with working memory after sports concussions.” (Read more)

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