Parents Worry Too Much About Kids' Concussions
Neurologist thinks it's time to redefine the term
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2015 9:40 AM CST
Stock photo   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A pediatric neurologist with 40 years of experience makes the case in the New York Times that parents might be worrying too much about their kids getting concussions. The problem is that this "obsessing," as the headline puts it, might be doing more harm than good by preventing kids from playing sports and getting exercise, writes Steven Rothman. He's not discounting the danger of "severe head trauma," of course, but Rothman suggests that an overreaction is occurring—in part because our definition of what constitutes a "concussion" has gotten much looser over the years. It used to refer to a temporary loss of consciousness but now encompasses lesser symptoms such as headaches. Rothman suggests an approach that he says protects kids without exaggerating the dangers.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Neurology should redefine mild head trauma that produces only headaches as a 'noncussion,'" he writes. "The definition should emphasize that symptoms go away within seven to 10 days, and children should withdraw from full play for at least two weeks." If things seem fine after that, let the kid play. This is different from adult professional leagues where athletes with brain injuries are stupidly being left in games. But the understandable concern filtering down from there has led to "an excessive sense of caution" in youth leagues that keeps too many kids on the bench, writes Rothman. Click for his full column.