EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – New concussion research from a graduate student at the University of Oregon shows that some athletes might need more time to fully recover from head trauma than doctors typically recommend.
Normally most doctors give athletes about a week to ten days to recover from a concussion; however, new research from the University of Oregon's Department of Human Physiology shows that some brains can be impaired even two months after a head injury.
Graduate student David Howell helped lead the research. The study involved about twenty Eugene-area high school athletes who received concussions. Each participating athlete was then put through visual cognitive brain tests.
The participants in the study were tested multiple times over a two-month period where researchers analyzed their attention level and task-switching abilities. Each concussed subject's results were then compared to a non-concussed subject's results with similar physical attributes.
The results showed that many concussed subjects took milliseconds longer to answer questions up to two months after their initial injury. Without full recovery, it could mean more injury for athletes.
“Can they respond to something coming at them and ready themselves for an oncoming hit to protect themselves from a further injury?” asked David Howell, a graduate student at the University of Oregon.
“After a first injury, if you come back to play within that season, there's some research that indicates that you're three times more likely to receive a second concussion,” said Howell.
Ultimately, researchers say they want to learn more about the impact of multiple concussions on younger brains. Researchers are particularly interested in the frontal lobe - the decision-making part of the brain -which doesn't stop forming until you're 25 years old.
Researchers wonder if more concussions could impact a person's future decision-making abilities if the brain is injured in late development.
Researchers are now continuing with the study, looking at how concussions affect motor coordination. So far, initial results show a similar pattern in that concussion effects linger for many months.