Teen concussion study reveals dangers for athletes

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Researchers have a new warning for teenagers with concussions.

A study published this week in the Journal for Pediatrics claims to show just how dangerous it is for high school athletes to play with concussions.

This is the very first study comparing teens with concussions who are immediately pulled from action - and those who aren’t.

As the evidence grows concerning the long-term impact of concussions, Warren Central High School’s team doctor sees more American parents support pulling and keeping kids out of the game.

“I think there’s no question we’ve made progress over the past five to seven years in regards to that,” said Dr. Dan Kraft. “However, we also know that kids play with concussions.”

Dr. Kraft hopes the new study results will help convince his athletes not to “tough it out” as he knows many currently do.

“They’ll continue to stay in the game for as long as they can and won’t let us know of the symptoms that they have,” said Kraft.

Those symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and even memory loss.

When teens ignore those symptoms and keep playing, the new research published in the journal of pediatrics shows their concussion recovery time doubles. Short-term mental function also worsens.

“I think they get so wrapped up in the game that they forget about their safety and their health first,” said Warren Central cheerleading coach Dominique Brock.

Brock believes that phenomenon is not unique to football. She says she sees cheerleaders and others ignoring the science on concussions.

The new study makes her more worried about the athletes pushing themselves, possibly setting themselves up for long-term effects.

“I feel like a lot of the athletes do get pushed to get out there sooner than they’re ready or a lot of times they’re more eager to when we know we’re seeing the signs that they’re not ready,” said Brock. “That’s what makes me more nervous.”

This study was small, only looking at 69 teens.

Many doctors though, believe the results will likely lead to more studies, helping gain more support for stronger return-to-play laws and policies across the nation.