MELBOURNE, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- It could take up to a month for concussion patients to fully recover or else risk serious brain damage, Australian researchers have found.
The study, published by the University of Melbourne, found that underlying brain damage from a concussion, caused by a sudden impact causing the brain to jolt, can last for up to a month.
Researchers found that a victim of a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) could be vulnerable to serious brain damage from repeated concussions for up to 30 days, dispelling the widely-held belief that a concussed person is safe to return to normal activities after days or weeks.
Sandy Shultz, a senior researcher from the University of Melbourne's Department of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said his team was aiming to protect healing brains by developing a blood test to measure brain damage as well as trialling drug sodium selenate which reduced brain damage in animals after repeated concussions.
"There is now emerging evidence that repetitive mild Traumatic Brain Injury can have persisting effects, from the mild effects on memory, language and cognition through to the chronic traumatic encephalopathy reported in former American footballers," Shultz said on Tuesday.
Shultz said his team tested the cognition and memory of mice that received mild multiple head injuries five days apart.
The more repeated injuries the mice sustained the longer cognitive deficits lasted, as measured by brain scans and blood tests.
"There is a theory this may be due to the repeated injury occurring while the brain is still in a period of increased vulnerability after the first mTBI," Schultz told News Limited.
"If that's the case it becomes very important not just to diagnose the initial injury, but also to determine who has recovered and is no longer in that period of increased vulnerability.
"Current management revolves around presence or absence of symptoms, usually self-reported scales, so this adds more fuel to whether or not current medical or clinical management tools are conservative enough."