Children's Hospital Colorado

A Case Study: Repeat Concussions in Teenagers and Sports Retirement Considerations (S2:E25)

How many concussions are too many for a young athlete, and when should sports retirement be considered?

These are the types of questions that parents and adolescent athletes ask when faced with multiple concussions due to youth sports. They're excellent questions, because treating patients with multiple concussions differs greatly from managing a patient who has had a single concussion. As one example, pediatricians need to approach history gathering in a wholly different way. They must also prepare for potentially difficult conversations with teenage athletes who love their sport.

Listen to our pediatric sports medicine physician discuss repeat concussions in teenage patients

In today's episode, we explore the case of a high school football player who sustained multiple concussions. Julie Wilson, MD, Co-Director of the Concussion Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, treated the patient and rejoins Charting Pediatrics to guide listeners through the case's details.

The majority of Dr. Wilson's time is dedicated to caring for kids and young athletes who lead very active lives. She is extremely familiar with concussions in youth sports and other sports-related injuries. As she explains, the young man in this case study sustained at least three to four previous concussions. There's more nuance to the case than you might expect, so listen in for an interesting look into the management of repeat concussions in teenagers.

In this episode, our expert explains:

  • The details of one high school senior's helmet-to-helmet injuries
  • How to approach patient history gathering with young athletes
  • Why it's so important to assess the presence of any prolonged symptoms between concussions
  • Whether there is a specific number of concussions a young patient can experience before sports retirement should be considered
  • Helpful diagnostic tools for adolescent patients with multiple head injuries
  • Patient susceptibility for concussions in youth sports
  • What families of teenage athletes with head injuries need to know
  • How to discuss potential long-term risks of repeat concussion in teenagers
  • The limitations of concussion autopsy research studies
  • The importance of taking a young athlete's retirement very seriously
  • Alternate options for athletes with multiple head injuries, other than retirement
  • How to best approach the discussion of mental and emotional health concerns as they relate to concussions
  • Why it is critical to prepare athletes for retirement, both psychologically and emotionally
  • Proven strategies for building trust with adolescent athletes to prevent unreported concussions

Treatment of repeat concussions in teenagers at Children's Colorado

Adolescent patients who have sustained one or more concussions are treated by our Concussion Program. Physicians, neuropsychologists, psychologists, physical therapists, athletic trainers and school specialists work together under a multidisciplinary approach to comprehensive concussion care. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.