Dr. Harry Kerasidis Featured in Neurology Now: Kids and Concussions
Heads First: The number of children who sustain concussions is on the rise. Sports organizations are responding with stricter policies to ensure safer play. Here's what parents and coaches need to know.
By Paturel, Amy
Vol. 11 - Issue 4: p 14–19
Know the risks of concussion
(Excerpt from the article)
Parents should know that kids and teens have physiological differences that make them more susceptible to head injury, says Harry Kerasidis, MD, medical director for the Center for Neuroscience at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Fredericks, MD, founder of XLNTbrain LLC, a sports concussion management program, and a member of the AAN. Compared to adults, adolescent necks are weaker and have less fatty material coating the nerves, so their tissues are more vulnerable to impact, he says. Shake up a cranium during this stage of development, and the results can be catastrophic. “The brain is like the yolk in an egg. It's bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, but if you shake it hard enough it's going to slosh inside,” he says.
Fibers connecting one nerve cell to the next can tear and swell from the force, cell membranes may become leaky, and the glucose that fuels brain cells has trouble entering the cells and supplying the energy required for repair. “The brain requires huge amounts of energy to restore its equilibrium, and at the same time it's suffering from a fuel deficit,” Dr. Kerasidis explains.
While the whole brain is vulnerable, the frontal and prefrontal cortex—the locus of judgment, decision making, attention, and impulse control—are at greatest risk because of their proximity to the skull. That's even more troubling for kids, since their frontal lobes don't reach maximum density until age 25 or 30, which may be one reason teens take longer to recover from concussions than adults."