Children who suffer from a second or third concussion take much longer to recover, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

The study, titled “Time Interval Between Concussions and Symptom Duration”, included a total of 280 people (between the ages of 11 and 22) who received emergency department treatment for concussion.

A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain caused by a blow or violent shaking.

Normally it only takes a couple of weeks for the symptoms of concussion to go, which include:

  • Amnesia.
  • Depression
  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Hyperacusis – sensitivity to sounds.
  • Irritability.
  • Lack of concentration, focus.
  • Moodiness.
  • Photophobia – sensitivity to light.

However, this latest study found that people who had suffered from a second concussion took over a month to recover.

The effect of prior concussion depended on how close it was in time to the second. Kids who suffered from a second concussion within one year of suffering their first one experienced the symptoms for three times longer than those whose concussions were more than a year apart.

The researchers identified a correlation between the number of concussions suffered and duration of symptoms – patients with more than one concussion before being sent to the ER took much longer to recover from symptoms compared to those with no previous history of concussion.

Dr. Paul Comper, a concussion researcher from the University of Toronto, told Reuters Health:

“We have to be cautious in terms of after two weeks, if you still have symptomatic athletes, that you’re not trying to hurry them back.

The most important piece of information that comes out of this study is, if you’ve had prior concussions, the 10- to 14-day (recovery) thing may be completely out the window.”

Other factors that resulted in a longer recovery time, included:

  • Being over the age of 13
  • Having very severe symptoms at the ER visit
  • Experiencing no loss of consciousness

Research presented at the 2008 American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting found that a history of previous concussion accounts for significant differences in test results following injury.

Illustration of how a concussion occurs Concussion Anatomy

The authors concluded that their findings have the potential to help manage and treat people suffering from concussions, especially those who are at the highest risk.

Adolescents are at a particularly high risk of sport-related concussion, compared with adults or younger children, according to a study in Brain Injury.

The American Academy of Neurology published the “Updated Sports Concussion Guideline”, which stated that athletes should be removed from play as soon as a concussion is suspected.

In addition, the British Journal of Sports Medicine released guidelines stating that children and teens should be strictly monitored and activities restricted until fully healed following a concussion.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist