Evaluation and management of sport-related concussions in adolescent athletes
Sport-related concussions in young athletes are common, generally under reported and often go unrecognized. Concussion in sport may result either from a direct impact to the head or from indirect forces transmitted to the brain from impact elsewhere on the body. Concussions may also result from sudden acceleration, deceleration or rotational forces to the brain. The key features of concussion include confusion, impaired memory and reduced speed of information processing. Recovery may occur from a few days to several weeks or months. Both physical and cognitive rests are recommended for recovery. Long-term cognitive and behavioral complications are a concern. Preventive strategies include education, modification of sport rules, use of equipment such as headgears, face masks and mouth guards, and neck muscle training. Evidence is limited to support effectiveness of these preventive measures with the exception of rule modification in some sports. Laws have been enacted that require medical evaluation and clearance prior to return to play; however, evidence thus far does not show that laws have been effective in reducing the incidence of concussions in sport. More research is needed in all areas of preventive measures. Sports participation is a complex personal decision on the part of adolescent and his or her family. They should be provided with all information on inherent risks so that they can make an informed decision.