Listen up, young athletes.

Playing through the pain of a concussion doubles your recovery time. It also could lead to more severe symptoms, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s concussion clinic.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, provide hard evidence to support what many medical experts have been preaching to coaches, parents and young athletes for years: when in doubt, sit it out.

In the small study, scientists compared two groups of athletes between the ages of 12 and 19 who were treated for concussion symptoms at the Pittsburgh clinic. They played a variety of sports, including soccer, hockey, football.

One group of 35 athletes stopped playing immediately after their concussion. The other group was allowed to keep playing for about 20 minutes. Those who sat on the bench healed faster. They took 22 days to recover, while the athletes who stayed in the game needed 44 days.

Also, the players in the group that continued to play experienced worse symptoms, the study found.

“Despite increases in education and awareness, many athletes continue to play with signs and symptoms of a sport-related concussion,” the researchers wrote. “Immediate removal from play is the first step in mitigating prolonged [sports-related concussion] recovery....”

A concussion is a disturbance in brain function that occurs either from a blow to the head or as a result of the violent shaking of the head, according to a University of Pittsburgh news release.

Concussion signs coaches should watch for include:

• Appears to be dazed or stunned.

• Is confused about assignment.

• Forgets plays.

• Is unsure of game, score or opponent.

• Moves clumsily.

• Answers questions slowly

• Loses consciousness (even temporarily).

• Shows behavior or personality change.

• Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde amnesia).

• Forgets events after hit (anterograde amnesia).


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