CogniFit's Science blog: Mild Concussions Can Still Affect Your Cognitive Abilities

Mild Concussions Can Still Affect Your Cognitive Abilities

A great deal of research has been done in recent years with concussions and the effects they can have on the brain.

This is particularly true with athletes and kids playing sports, but it is troubling regardless of how it originates. And new research suggests even mild concussions can pay dividends toward its effect on the brain and your cognitive abilities.

The common belief that it takes several concussions or a serious one to do damage is no more. It has now been found that children with just a mild concussion can have persistent attention and memory problems a year after their injury. The overall goal was simply to help identify which kids may be at more risk for lingering symptoms.

Instead, the study found frightening news that cognitive abilities and symptoms may be worse off than previously thought. It is still true that most kids with these injuries will be symptom free within a few months. But the study does suggest that problems can linger for 20% of those who fall victim to a mild concussion.

The symptoms you want to keep an eye out for have not changed. And the study found that one of the key symptoms, forgetfulness, is more likely to linger than other symptoms like fatigue and dizziness.

Researchers found that forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention, headaches and fatigue were the most common in children who had lost consciousness or had other mild head trauma causing brain abnormalities on imaging tests. Kids who did not get knocked out or tested normal with imaging tests did not have all of the symptoms.

To get the best results, the study looked closely at symptoms for up to a year after the injury. And while a majority of the kids progressed fine, the key behind the study is identifying the children that don’t…the ones that may suffer consequences to their cognitive abilities.

The study itself took 186 children aged 8 to 15 with mild concussions and other mild brain injuries. The reports were then based on parents’ reports of symptoms of up to 12 months after the injuries. Overall, 15 children, or 20 percent of the children, who lost consciousness, had lingering forgetfulness while 20 percent who had abnormal brain scans had lingering headaches.

The bottom line is no matter how much research has already been conducted on concussions, there is still a great deal to learn about brain fitness and brain health. Even the slightest concussion that is incredibly mild can have consequences on the brain, cognitive abilities and how children function in the years to come.