How Soon Is Too Soon For Athletes To Return After Concussions?

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High-contact sports such as football and hockey have made great advancements in how they manage brain injuries simply by mandating that athletes must be cleared by a health professional before returning to activity. Typically this means being sidelined for between 5 and 7 days, but a new study says it may not be safe for brains to return to the field less than a month after a concussion.

The study came from researchers at the University of Oregon, where the team tested 19 athletes and found that 12 showed signs of regression in balance and/or speed. In comparison, the seven players who were not returned to competition for more than 20 days compared similarly to control subjects.

While the study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, is limited by small sample size, it is also based on previous findings published in the same journal last year.

That stud showed that 25 high school athletes who had suffered concussions exhibited compromised abilities to focus and switch tasks for up to two months after their injuries. However, principal investigator Li-Shan Chou also noted the original research showed a regression at 28 days after injury.

“We had seen this same type of curve in an earlier study of college athletes,” he says. “We didn’t have any evidence linking it to a return to activity, but we did discuss that possibility, because we knew that they usually were permitted to return to practice two weeks after a concussion.”

You can find out more here in a report from the University of Oregon.

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