News | Published June 24, 2013

Second concussion symptoms last longer

A brain injury that occurs with a concussion will take longer to recover from if the brain has been injured before, in a similar manner, according to the study “Time Interval Between Concussions and Symptom Duration,” in the July 2013 Pediatrics (published online June 10).

The study also showed the closer together the concussions occur, the longer the recovery time took as well. Children who had a second concussion within a year had nearly three times the average duration of symptoms compared to children whose concussions occurred more than one year apart. Other factors that increase recovery time include being age 13 or older, having more severe symptoms at the time of the emergency room visit and having no loss of consciousness.

Common signs of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting

For young children, head trauma can be common; however, concussions can be difficult to recognize for those who can’t readily communicate how they feel. Nonverbal clues of a concussion can include:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Loss of balance
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities or toys

If your child experiences a head injury, it’s important to take them to see their pediatrician within one or two days. You should seek emergency care if your child has a head injury and starts vomiting, has a headache that gets worse, has changes to their behavior, has difficulty with physical coordination, has slurred speech and is confused.

As the medical community learns more about concussions, it is helpful to have good research to demonstrate what physicians have suspected. This allows us to better manage concussions and make sure that we are caring for kids with concussions in the safest way.