Research shows younger athletes experience longer concussion symptoms

New research finds children 13 years and younger can experience concussion symptoms up to three times longer than older teens and adults. That’s according to the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Local sports medicine experts said this is something we will continue to see and it’s up to communities to adapt for the safety of athletes.

“We are really just scratching the surface,” said Andrew Jagim, director of sports medicine research at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Total rest has now shown negative consequences, according to the American Osteopathic Association.

“It used to be dark room, no stimuli and lots of rest, and now we are reversing that, saying maybe you should return to some of your normal activities,” Jagim said.

He said younger athletes will be held out longer from competition to recover.

“Instead of 7-10 days, if they are of that younger age, maybe we extend that to three to four weeks before they are given that official green light to go back to their actual sport,” Jagim said.

Youth organizations will also have to change the way they operate. Varsity sporting events staff two to three trainers to handle these injuries. That may not be the case with younger sports organizations and clubs.

“Youth organizations still have a long way to go,” Jagim said. “They just don’t have the resources to really instill these kinds of set and specific concussion protocols.”

The Onalaska Parks and Recreation Department eliminated tackling from it’s youth football program last year.

Onalaska High School Activites Director Charlie Ihle said the new tackle bar program keeps young football players safe while teaching them how to play the game.

“It certainly teaches the safe and proper techniques and encouraging kids to play sports and play football. They stay involved and want to stay involved,” Ihle said. “Safety is No. 1.”

Jagim said protecting athletes should be the No. 1 priority at every level of a sport.

“No one wants to see athletes getting hurt at the luxury of people just wanting to be entertained,” Jagim said.

Ihle said it’s up to the community to embrace change for the better.

“Education is the key to all of the things that we do,” Ihle said. “We have to do our part in taking the knowledge in and improve ourselves on a daily basis, because it’s continuing to change and it won’t stop changing.”

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