Concussion is the most common type of brain injury that can be caused by any strong blow to the head. Although minor concussion damage can easily be healed in time, a study featured on shows that it may affect children far longer than most have initially thought.

Andrew Mayer, PhD, and colleagues at the Mind Research Network and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, studied 15 children who had experienced a concussion within 21 days of the trial, as well as 15 healthy, unaffected children, all between the ages of 10 to 17 years. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the researchers examined the white matter in brains of both groups. White matter are fibers in the brain that carry out commands and other information from one part to another.

Researchers found that children who had minor head injuries had slight changes in their white matter, causing cognitive deficits. The changes also remained even months after symptoms of the injury have gone.

Mayer explains, “The magnitude of the white matter changes in children with mild traumatic brain injury was larger than what has been previously been reported for adult patients with mild traumatic brain injury. These findings may have important implications about when it is truly safe for a child to resume physical activities that may produce a second concussion, potentially further injuring an already vulnerable brain."

Children who show concussion symptoms such as headaches, disorientation, emotional changeability, and even loss of memory should immediately be brought to a doctor and should be monitored even months after the injury. A clean bill of health should also be given prior to having him or her return to any strenuous physical activity.

(Photo by binu kumar via Flickr Creative Commons)

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