Guidelines discourage same-day return to play among youth athletes if they display any signs of a concussion after an injury. However, according to a recent study, youth athletes may still be returning to the field the same day postinjury.

The study, “Same-Day Return to Play After Pediatric Athletes Sustain Concussions,” was presented during the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in October.

In the study, Shane M. Miller, MD, FAAP, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Plano, Texas, as well as Meagan Sabatino, senior clinical research coordinator at the same hospital, examined the medical records from 185 patients between the ages of 7 and 18 who were treated for concussion at Texas pediatric sports clinic during a 10-month period in 2014, according to a media release from AAP.

Nearly half (47%) of the athletes sustained a concussion while playing football; and 16% of the athletes received their injury while playing soccer.

Of these patients, 71 (38%) reported returning to play on the same day as their initial injury. Patients who immediately returned to play after their injury reported less severe symptoms of dizziness and balance problems immediately after being hurt. By the time they were seen in the clinic, however, these patients were statistically more likely to report the presence and increased severity of nausea, dizziness, balance problems, sensitivity to light and noise, feeling “slowed down,” pressure in the head, confusion and trouble with both concentrating and falling asleep, the release explains.

Overall, the majority of the concussion patients studied were male (72%), but the researchers said there were no statistical differences noted in age, gender, presence of concussion symptoms on day of injury, sport, mechanism of injury or impact location between those who returned to play on the same day and those who did not, the release continues.

“Our findings suggest that we still have work to do to change behaviors to protect short- and long-term brain health of youth athletes,” Sabatino says.

Miller concurs, emphasizing the ongoing need for concussion education. “We need to emphasize the message, `when in doubt, sit them out—and keep them out—until full recovery,’ ” he states.

[Source(s): American Academy of Pediatrics, Science Daily]