Children can experience a number of symptoms immediately after suffering a concussion, with physical symptoms starting right after the injury while emotional symptoms might present later during recovery, according to a new study.
Study findings were published May 12 on the website of the journal Pediatrics.
The study included 235 children ages 11-22 who came to the ED at Boston Children’s Hospital after suffering a concussion. Each patient completed an initial questionnaire describing the injury, past medical history and the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, which asks about symptoms, cognitive and sports activity, and school and athletic performance.
The patients continued to complete the RPSQ for three months after their head injuries or until all symptoms resolved. While most study participants recovered from their concussions within two weeks of injury, they experienced a large number of symptoms during that time period.
More than two-thirds of patients still had a headache one week after the injury, researchers found. The most common symptoms were physical complaints such as headache, dizziness and fatigue, which tended to start immediately after the injury but resolved with time.
Emotional symptoms such as frustration and irritability were not as common right after the injury, but developed later during the recovery period in many patients. A majority of patients also experienced cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and taking longer to think.
The symptoms lasting the longest were irritability (median duration 16 days), sleep disturbance (16 days), frustration (14 days) and poor concentration (14 days), according to the study. Researchers also found that one month after the initial injury, nearly 25% of children still reported having a headache, while less than 20% still suffered from fatigue and nearly 20% reported taking longer to think.
Physical symptoms of a concussion are likely to be more burdensome immediately after the injury, while the emotional symptoms often begin later, even as the physical symptoms subside, the authors concluded.