By comparing brain imaging studies and thinking tests between healthy people and those with relatively minor concussions, the researchers found that the recovery of thinking skills can take a long time. Minor concussions can be caused by events such as falling off a bike, being in a slow-speed car crash or being hit in a fist-fight.
Initially, those with concussions had thinking and memory test scores that were 25 percent lower than those in healthy people. One year after injury, however, while the scores for those with and without concussions were similar, those who had had brain injuries still had evidence of brain damage on imaging tests, with clear signs of continued disruption to key brain cells.
The study is one more piece of evidence that proves the need for increased awareness of—and study of—concussion injuries—especially because, as one of the study's authors noted, almost all traumatic brain injuries fall in the "mild to moderate" category. And parents, especially, need to be vigilant about the signs and symptoms of concussion, which can include (but aren't limited to) headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and changes in vision.
Read more about kids and concussions.