Teens Fare Worst After Concussions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Teens Fare Worst After Concussions

Concussions affect the thinking of teenagers more than they do that of adults or children, according to a new study. But all three age groups show lasting problems with working memory after sports concussions.

People use working memory for reading, problem solving and manipulating information. It's controlled by the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain. And that part of the brain matures during adolescence. "It likely makes it more vulnerable", says Dave Ellemberg, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Montreal who led the study.

The study, which tested the thinking of 96 people about six months on average after they sustained a concussion, found that children had deficits as great as those in adults.

"Often parents and coaches will think that a child's brain is more resilient," Ellemberg told Shots. "That's not the case. Even 6 to 8 months after the injury, we find marked deficits."

What's interesting about this study is that it tested the participants' thinking two different ways. The participants took tests of memory and thinking speed used by the National Hockey League. And they also took tests while their brain activity was measured by an electroencephalogram.

Other recent research has found that the tests used by professional sports teams and, increasingly, by college and high school teams, aren't all that good at detecting the long-term effects of concussion.

Ellemberg says that in earlier tests he did with EEGs, even if people did well on the standard neuropsychological tests after a concussion, their brains were working differently than usual in order to get the job done. This, he says, shows that "that the brain is struggling much more than it normally would to complete the tasks." The findings were published in the journal Brain Injury.

In addition to working memory, the participants' ability to sustain attention and focus was also affected six months to 1 year after the injury.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The World Music Education of Philip Glass

In his new memoir, Music Without Words, the composer explains how a chance meeting with Ravi Shankar sparked a fascination with the cultures of the world and their music.
NPR

PepsiCo Swaps Diet Drink's Aspartame For Other Artificial Sweeteners

The company says Diet Pepsi consumers are concerned about aspartame. But the Food and Drug Administration has long affirmed that the sweetener is safe in amounts commonly used by beverage companies.
NPR

8 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From The White House Correspondents Dinner

Every year, the president sits down for dinner with Washington reporters and delivers a standup routine. From his "bucket list" to Hillary Clinton, here's what he came up with this year.
NPR

As Health Apps Hop On The Apple Watch, Privacy Will Be Key

The notion of receiving nutrition advice from artificial intelligence on your wrist may seem like science fiction. But health developers are betting this kind of behavior will become the norm.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.