When my son was 9 years old, he announced he wanted to play hockey. Having written about brain injuries for 15 years, I was well aware of the frequency of concussions in the sport. I assumed it was a temporary interest, but he stuck with it. Through the years he’s supplemented his seasonal play with summer camps and roller hockey to hone his skills during the off season.
Concussion assessment has changed
I’d like to say I’ve stopped worrying but working in brain health research always lends itself to reading concussion-related articles. So when I came across a new Rutgers University study raising questions about the widely used Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT), I was curious to know more.
The findings, which were presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting on April 5, 2022 highlighted “the importance of considering the effects of exercise and fatigue in assessing concussion in athletes on the field.” After all, even non-injured players (who served as the control) reported symptoms like fatigue and neck pain after strenuous games and practices.
So, what symptoms ARE more closely associated with having a head injury?
According to the researchers, symptoms that might be a stronger indicator of concussion include:
• “not feeling right”
• cognitive-sensory effects
• emotional-affective symptoms
Post-concussion protocol has changed
For youth athletes who experience a concussion, “gone are the days of resting in a dark room.” A new multi-site study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that starting physical activity three days post-concussion is safe and has better outcomes. The research, which is the first and largest real-world, randomized clinical trial on the topic to be done on participants between ages 10 and 18.
Wendy Burt-Thomas writes about the brain, mental health and parenting.
Check out the original research: