The study, which was published in U.S. based journal, Orthopedics, focused on adolescents who sustained one or more concussions, analysing historical data compared to recent finding, with 14% of 357 athletes reporting suffering from amnesia and 33% reporting a history of concussions.
The research showed athletes who have suffered concussions have a higher incidence of non-contact lower-body injuries, as a result of balance issues caused after concussions, with the long-term effects more likely for those who suffer a concussion early in life.
Henry Ford Hospital chief of sports medicine and study co-author, Dr. Vasilios Moutzouros, said the study concludes team physicians must be particularly mindful when evaluating an adolescent athlete due to the short and long-term neurocognitive implications as it concerns a return to sport.
“Concussions have been a pressing issue,” Dr. Moutzouros said.
“We want to limit the number of concussions and head injuries in a young athlete,” he said.
Henry Ford Hospital administrative chief resident in Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Toufic Jildeh, said a related 2019 study also led by Dr. Jildeh showed a similar trend of lower-body injuries due to a loss of balance following a concussion with NFL players being sidelined much longer.
“Historically, the literature reported a concussion prevalence of 4-5%, however recent studies have found that nearly 20% of adolescents have suffered at least one concussion, there’s a huge disparity in terms of reporting over time,” he said, discussing previous thoughts young age was a protective factor against concussions and the neuroplasticity of young athletes offered faster recovery.
Henry Ford Concussion and Sports Neurology Clinic medical director and sports neurologist, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, who also acts as an advisor to the players’ associations for the NFL and NHL, said the 30-day recovery should be the baseline before returning to sport.
“Concussion diagnosis and management requires an individualised and comprehensive neurological approach to ensure we are accurately diagnosing and managing return to play effectively,” Dr. Kutcher said.