The first is that concussion effects may linger for a long time after symptoms of dizziness and headaches have disappeared. One small study found brain changes up to year after even mild concussions. This does not surprise me. We often found that when some children had been cleared after medical examination, academic skills such as spelling and problems with concentration continued for many months. Recent studies, although small and needing replication, support our past observations in clinical practice.
The second factor is that mental exertion following a concussion could worsen the effects of the concussion. This flies in the face of advice to limit physical contact but to use that time to study and maintain school progress. This new finding makes good sense. An analogy would be a sprained ankle where stressing the ankle would make things worse. These youngsters,especially students between the ages of 12 and 15, may have problems with concentration long after the effects of their concussion have supposedly disappeared.
This makes me wonder about electronic games, texting, and Internet work that requires switching from one task to another and maintaining high levels of concentration. Just telling the postconcussion child to take it easy and play video games may not the in the child’s best interest, although more research is necessary .
Parents need to be aware of these possibilities and resist intense academic work and perhaps even video games and other digital communication systems until all symptoms have truly dissipated. Maybe this is one time that watching TV is better than studying.