UK researchers find surprising differences in teens’ concussion symptoms and physical and emotional effects

University of Kentucky researchers have discovered surprising differences in symptoms student athletes experience following a concussion, a particular concern as high-school football season nears.

Lisa Koehl, a doctoral candidate in the university’s Department of Psychology, and Dan Han, director of the Multidisciplinary Concussion Program at UK HealthCare, drew from a UK database of patients with brain injury and drew a sample of 37 athletes aged 12 to 17.

Koehl said in a press release that 22 of the 37 participants had emotional symptoms after suffering concussions. Among those with such symptoms, 23 percent also had sensitivity to light, while 14 percent had sensitivity to noise. Of the teens who did not have emotional symptoms, 13 percent had light sensitivity, but none of them had noise sensitivity.

Han said said participants who reported anxiety were 55 percent more inclined to have attention difficulties than those who didn’t report anxiety. Teens who were irritable or aggressive were 35 percent more likely to report issues with attention those those who were not irritable.

The two groups did not show differences in how many experienced “loss of consciousness, amnesia, nausea and/or headaches, indicating that the groups were likely comparable in the level of the severity of concussion,” the press release says.

Koehl said the research helped them understand how physical and emotional symptoms in concussion patients interact, with each causing the other in different cases. “Identifying factors that affect a teen’s experience after concussion may help in planning for the appropriate treatment and in making decisions about when to return to play and what accommodations are needed at school during recovery,” Han said. (Read more)

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