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Merrimack Valley

February 23, 2010

An expert talks about concussions and student athletes

Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins says the best advice he can give student athletes is to "get off the playing field immediately" when feeling symptoms of a concussion.

Collins is assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's medicine concussion program, chief clinical officer of ImPACT Applications and one of the developers of ImPACT's baseline testing program.

He talked about concussions in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune.

Q. Are youths more vulnerable to concussions and why?

A. We know that the vulnerability is much higher at the youth sport level. We've published research showing that when you compare the recovery rates of high school kids, for example, versus college athletes, the recovery is severely longer in the high school age population.... We don't know exactly why. There's several hypotheses. One is the neck strength. Clearly the necks aren't as well developed. And neck strength does play a key role in mitigating some of the forces that cause concussion.¬ 

Q: What about girls?

A: We just published another paper where we did a study looking at recovery from concussion in high school soccer player girls and high school soccer player boys. They have the same protective equipment, which is none for the head in soccer. And they have the same rules and everything. And when you look at a large sample of patients we actually find that girls have worse symptoms early on and have longer recovery rates. ... Maybe neck strength is involved in that. One other thing: We're finding that migraine is a significant predictor of someone who has poor outcome following a concussion. So if you have a history of migraine, it is easier to get a concussion and the outcomes are worse. And the female to male ratio of migraines is 4-to-1 female to male.

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