The latest research on diagnosing concussions in y

The most recent research on diagnosing concussions in young athletes recommends a multi-faceted approach including parent observations of behavior at home.

Dr. Gerry Gioia, pediatric neuropsychologist, presented an evidence-based model of pediatric concussion in the National Summit on Sports Concussion locked in Los Angeles, California in June, 2012. He provided documentation on four specific areas that should be part of a pediatric evaluation of the athlete who may have sustained a concussion.

Pediatric Concussion Evaluation

According to Dr. Gioia, the young athlete should be evaluated in the following four areas:

Neurocognitive symptomsChild’s subjective or verbal descriptions of symptomsParent’s description of changes in behaviorCognitive changes

Neurocognitive tests are tests that provide an objective measurement on how well the mind is functioning. These kinds of tests include tests for learning, balance, response speed or reaction time, memory retention, and mental processing. Fundamental essentials same tests that sports medicine professionals use to evaluate all athletes with possible concussion.

For example, the evaluator can make five random words and get the athlete to repeat the words. Wait five minutes and have the athlete repeat the job. This tests the brains ability to remember. Memory is really a key area of the brain that can be affected when it is concussed.

Concussion Symptoms

Subjective symptoms of concussion are evaluated through the use of an indicator check list. Athletes are asked a number of queries about possible concussion symptoms including headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, sensation of “fogginess”, difficulty with concentration, balance difficulties, sensitivity to light, and sensitivity to sound. Symptoms that are gone through by the athlete are documented on a cheque list. This is repeated daily as a way to document the amount of symptoms and just how long they last within the athlete.

Because young athletes may not have the verbal skills to describe the symptoms that they may be feeling, Dr. Gioia stated that it’s important to include input from the athlete’s parents on which they are seeing in your own home to assist by having an accurate diagnosis. The focus from the questions must include parent observations in any differences in normal cognitive and/or functional behavior at home.

More on this topic

    Chronic Traumatic EncephalopathyConcussion Treatment and Care Tools ActBrain Injury Revealed in Football Players without Concussions

    For example, the parent can offer critical information that can assist the sports medicine professional including pre and post-injury changes in:

    Sleep patternsIrritabilityNervousness/anxiety levelsMood SwingsActivity levels

    The last area that should be evaluated include cognitive changes or alterations in the brain’s ability to process information. A concussion has been referred to as a “short circuit” in the brain’s neural connections or capability to process information. One of the ways to find out this is to inquire about questions and see how the athlete responds.

    For example, depending on the athlete’s age, common cognitive evaluation questions can include naming the months of the year backwards order, counting backwards from 100 by fives, or counting by twos or threes. The purpose would be to evaluate how well the brain is functioning. When the athlete struggles with information which should come easily, this is usually a symptom of a concussed brain.

    The review of the presentation was that diagnosing concussion in young athletes must follow a multi-dimensional model such as the synthesis of information collected from the variety of tools and resources. The accuracy from the diagnosis is determined by the sports medicine professional’s experience and data with assessment tools for concussions.

    Carefully following the recommendations from current researchers will help both doctors and parents to be better informed on which to consider and the way to recognize a concussion. Early recognition is essential for any full recovery.


    Gioia, Gerry Dr. (2012). Evidence Based Model of Pediatric Concussion Assessment presented at the National Summit on Sports Concussion along with other Athletic Injuries. Los Angeles, California.

    Strickland, Tony Dr. (2012). Gender and Associated Variables Associated with neurobehavioral Outcomes in Sport-induced Concussion presented in the National Summit on Sports Concussion along with other Athletic Injuries. La, California.


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