- Most teens recover well even from recurrent concussions without long term effects.
- We really don’t know how many concussions are too many.
- If you repeatedly struggle to recover from concussions, it is understandable that you may want to avoid getting into situations that carry a high concussion risk. We recommend you seek medical advice as each case is different. This often difficult decision is ultimately up to you.
Having More Than One Concussion
Research has shown that having a concussion unfortunately increases your risk of having another concussion. Therefore, it is common for adolescents to have more than one concussion.
We are still understanding the effects of having multiple concussions. It is likely that the effects are more related to individual factors and genetics rather than the number of concussions sustained.
At this time, no one can tell you how many is too many and if your “next” concussion will cause more permanent or later in life effects.
What can you do?
We know that having another concussion close to your first concussion can make it more difficult to recover. This is why it is recommended to have a “symptom-free waiting period” before returning to full contact sport.
Other research suggests a minimum of 10 days of non-contact exercise can significantly reduce your risk of another concussion.
Having two concussions that are 2-3 years apart is much different from having 2 concussions within weeks of each other. Why?
Stacking 2 injuries on top of each other very often creates a longer recovery and more symptoms. It’s like you fell on your knee and have a big scab - then you trip and fall again on the knee a week later, the pain and bruise will be much bigger than if your knee had completely healed up. The same principle applies to your brain. You need to allow a minimum of 10 days post-concussion to ensure your brain has had time to recover.
This is the reason you cannot return to contact sports or activities with high risk early. You need to be fully recovered and cleared by a doctor.
The key message is: decisions about returning to high risk activities should be made individually with a medical professional.
You May Have Heard about CTE - Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
CTE is a type of dementia similar to Alzheimer Disease that can only be diagnosed by looking at the brain under the microscope once someone has passed away. There is no blood test for it.
Researchers are working hard to get more answers!
This is very very unlikely! Most recreational athletes will have far less concussions than professional boxers or football players do; and even most boxers or football players do NOT get CTE.
CTE appears to occurs mostly in professional boxers and professional football players who suffered likely hundreds of concussions.