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Concussion Patients are Getting Younger: Bad News, Good News


A diagnosis of concussion in an 8-year-old who plays weekend soccer is, on its face, bad news; the good news is that 15 years ago, it might have gone unnoticed, untreated.

The severity of head injuries related to youth sports hasn't gotten worse—or better—over time but the age of the patients he and his colleauges see has been trending down, said physiatrist Scott Laker, MD, vice president of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

"...15 years ago, we rarely saw 7- and 8-year-olds come into clinic with a concern for concussion," Laker recently told Patient Care.® That appears to be the bad news. Laker is quick to add, however, that seeing younger patients means awareness of the injury among families and coaches has spread and deepened resulting in timely detection and treatment of head injuries that may have been overlooked in the past.

Laker talks about how the goals of concussion care differ between youth and adults and how awareness has helped push younger athletes into the medical system.

Scott Laker, MD, is vice president of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the University of Colorado School of Medicine's department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and associate dean of clinical affairs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Denver. Laker previously served as a member of the University of Washington Sports and Spine Physicians and was a founding member of the Seattle Sports Concussion Program. He has cared for athletes at all levels of participation from adolescents to adults and from amateurs to professionals.

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