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Prompt Concussion Treatment Reduces Recovery Time

March 18th, 2020

Each year, millions of young athletes experience a concussion - a traumatic brain injury, usually caused by a blow to the head, that can lead to headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and in some cases loss of consciousness. Although many factors play a role in concussion recovery, a new study of young athletes suggests that a waiting period before starting treatment following injury prolongs recovery time.

In new findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researcher Anthony Kontos, PhD, looked at 162 participants between the ages of 12-22 who had been treated for concussion. They were divided into two groups: early (those who sought treatment within 7 days of injury) and late (those who sought treatment between 8 and 20 days post-injury). For each group, researchers analyzed assessments that measure the impact of concussion, as well as other factors that might influence recovery, like information about the specific type of injury. Members of the group who sought treatment early were found to have shorter recovery times and were less likely to experience a recovery period of longer than thirty days than members of the group who sought treatment later.

Dr. Kontos notes the potential implications for clinical care: “Our study emphasizes the importance of seeking appropriate, specialized care early on. Delaying clinical care following a concussion leaves patients to deal with symptoms on their own and negates the positive effects of early and targeted interventions.” Early intervention may improve recovery time and allow an earlier return to athletics and fewer missed days of school.

To learn more about adolescent and teen health studies at the University of Pittsburgh, visit Pitt+Me.