There was a recent article in USA Today that talks about a new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, that suggests that the effects of concussion in children may last longer than previously thought.
The study found that kids and young adults, ages 11-22, who came to the emergency room with a repeat concussion — either within a year, or multiple times over a lifetime — took longer to recover than those with a first concussion. A single previous concussion more than a year earlier did not increase the risk for a longer recovery.
I agree that, in general, it does take longer for children and adolescents to recover from concussions than adults. This plays a role in how long I rest children & adolescents from mental and physical activities with a concussion and how soon I have them start their return to play progression.
As a sports medicine physician, I don’t recommend that children and adolescents start their return to play progression until they are symptom-free from their concussion. I generally extend the amount of time of symptom-free rest and the length of the return to play progression. I never recommend that a child or adolescent return to play on the same day as the injury. I also recommend that no return to sports or activities should occur before a child or adolescent athlete has returned to school.
Each concussion is different. I keep this in mind with every concussion I treat and I know that, in general, it does take children and adolescents longer to return to full cognitive and physical activities after a concussion compared to an adult.