Do you work with children or adolescents? Do they play soccer or other team sports? A new research review shares important information about mental health and concussion recovery in young people. The results underline the need to integrate assessment, prevention and intervention into standard follow-up procedures.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria, Australia, reviewed 69 studies with a total of 89,114 children with concussions from Australia, United States, Canada and New Zealand. Data analysis showed that up to 36.7% of children experienced significantly high levels of withdrawal, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress, and 20% of children with concussions experienced aggression, attention problems and hyperactivity after concussion. Overall, children with concussion experienced significantly higher levels of mental health difficulties than healthy children or children who sustained other injuries, such as an arm fracture.

Lead study author Alice Gornall, PhD candidate at Monash University in Clayton, Australia, noted that a third of children experience a head injury before age 13. “Despite the high incidence of concussion among children and adolescents, identifying those at risk of ongoing difficulties after concussion and during concussion recovery remains a prominent challenge for clinicians,” said Gornall. “On top of this, children take twice as long to recover from concussion [as] adults, with one in four children experiencing symptoms beyond one-month post-injury.”

Read the full study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2021; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-103548).

See also: Factors Associated With Youth Athlete Injuries