Being concussed as a teen does more damage to your memory than being knocked out as a child or adultAdolescents more likely to suffer memory loss First study to test trauma on three different age groups
Being concussed as a teen does more damage to your memory than being knocked out as a child or adult, say scientists.
A study found adolescents who suffered a traumatic head injury were more likely to experience short-term memory loss compared to any other age group.
Previously it was thought young people were more able to recover from trauma than adults as their brains were more 'plastic', but now experts believe they could be at greater risk of lasting damage.
An estimated 300,000 cases of traumatic brain injury occur in the U.S.every year as a result of sports and recreation accidents
They are now highlighting the importance of sports safety equipment as an estimated 300,000 cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur every year in the U.S. as a result of sports and recreation accidents.
Lead researcher Dr Dave Ellemberg, a professor at the University of Montreal said: 'For a long time, we believed that the
brain of a child was more plastic and could therefore better recover
from an accident or stress.
'In recent years, we’ve realised that quite to the contrary, a child’s brain is more vulnerable.'
During the small-scale study, tests were conducted on 96 people, – a third of which were adults, a third children aged 9 to12, and a third teens aged 13 to 16.
The participants took
neuropsychological tests, which were compared with results from tests
for working memory, attention and inhibitions during computerised tasks.
The findings showed teenagers were more
sensitive to sports concussion than any other age group.
However all groups
showed that a concussion can impact on the brain for up to a year.
Dr Ellemberg added: 'The frontal regions of the brain are more vulnerable to concussions.
'These areas oversee executive functions responsible for planning, organising and managing information.
'During adolescence, these functions are developing rapidly which makes them more fragile to stress and trauma.'
The study, published in the journal Brain Injury, was the first of its kind
to measure the impact of sports-related concussion on children, and the
first to test on trauma on three different age groups.
Dr Ellemberg highlights the importance of cognitive rest after a concussion, 'meaning no school, no television, no video games, and physical rest', to minimise damage to working memory.
He also encouraged sports players to take appropriate safety measures.
'Obviously, concussions are a part of sport, but we can reduce their occurrence by limiting dangerous situations.
'Youngsters must pursue their activities in a secure environment where people know how to treat concussions.'