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/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 15

A touring production of a classic Shakespeare play comes to D.C. and local watercolor painters show off their work in a group exhibit.

NPR

Reality Check For Young Farmers: It's An Expensive 'Habit'

More young people are trying their hand at farming, hoping to make a living out of it. But, as it turns out, passion and grit are just a few of the prerequisites for success.
WAMU 88.5

Local Lawmakers Returning Early To Capitol Hill For Syria Vote

House lawmakers are returning to Capitol Hill tonight to meet the president's call for action on Syria.

NPR

Grandparents Accidentally Tag Themselves As Grandmaster Flash

The autofill feature on Facebook substitutes the words grandma and grandpa with the name of hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash.

Leave a Comment

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