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Concussions Are Serious Head Injuries for Children and Adults

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By Caty Weaver
2006-10-17

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Doctors say the head injury called a concussion is more serious for children and young adults than people might think. They say concussions also may take longer to heal among young people.

A concussion is an injury that happens when the brain is shaken inside the skull. It can result from a hit to the head, a sudden stop in movement or violent shaking. Falling off a bicycle, getting hit while playing a sport, or being involved in a car accident are a few of the common causes of concussion.

People who have concussions often have trouble thinking or remembering. Concussions can also make a person feel very tired or angry. Other signs of concussion are stomach and head pain, muscle weakness and a loss in sharpness of vision.

The National Institutes of Health says there are about one million cases of concussions each year in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of them affect children or young adults involved in sports. Some concussions are more severe than others. But doctors say all of them should be taken seriously. Doctors say children are not necessarily dependable when reporting about their physical condition after a sports injury. Many want to get back in the game, on the bike, or to the playground too soon after a head injury.

The National Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, has a program to help high school sports officials deal with the problem. The CDC provides a video about a high school football player who was permanently disabled by a second concussion. The CDC also provides a guide for recognizing signs of concussion and measures to help prevent them.

Michael Collins is a brain researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania. The center is a major researcher on the effects and treatments of concussion. He was one of several researchers who helped develop a computer software program that tests for concussion and its level of severity.

Mister Collins says concussion research in the last five years has provided a huge amount of new information. He says young athletes can fully recover from concussion and continue sports activities. But he says they must be sure to give the brain time to heal before the head takes another hit.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. You can find our reports online at WWW.en8848.COM. I'm Barbara Klein.

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