A groundbreaking study recently completed by Dave Ellemberg, a neuropsychologist who heads up the department of Kinesology at the University of Montreal, has found that adolescents are more susceptible to the effects of sport-related concussions.
Ellemberg compared the consequences of trauma on three different age groups: children, adolescents and adults. His results show that all three groups are equally afflicted by the concussion injury but that adolescent brains are more sensitive than the brains of the other two groups.
This is new information because it had been thought for years that younger brains could recover more quickly from the initial effects of injury.
According to Ellemberg, “The frontal regions of the brain are more vulnerable to concussions. These areas oversee executive functions responsible for planning, organizing and managing information. During adolescence, these functions are developing rapidly which makes them more fragile to stress and trauma.”
Teams need to have an adult trained in what to do if a child has a concussion. In addition, an effort should be made to eliminate violence and situations that can lead to concussions, Ellemberg added.
According to Ellemberg, these results force us to re-evaluate our understanding of sport-related concussions. “The situation is more serious than we think,” he says. “Contrarily to professional athletes, youngsters don’t have a medical doctor and a protocol in place for becoming active again. However, for me, their brain is more important than the brain of a famous football player. It needs to be protected with the right diagnostic tools and an adapted framework.”
The results were published in the February 28 edition of Brain Injury, the official journal of the International Brain Injury Association.