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New Study Says Risk Of Repeat Concussions Isn't As Bad As Many Fear

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – While concussions can be serious, they're usually not. According to a new study from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a concussion doesn't have to mean the end of sports for students.

There is an increased risk for repeat concussions, but how big is that risk? The new research from CHOP says it's not as bad as many fear.

Hayden and Hannah Posencheg are finishing up their sophomore year at Dickinson College and both have had a series of concussions.

They've both had repeated concussions, mainly from sports injuries.

"The first one, I totally blacked out," Hannah Posencheg said. "Couldn't remember things for a while, memory started coming back but there was a lot of light sensitivity. I couldn't retain information."

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The study found the risk of repeat concussions among 5- to 15-year-olds was 8% in the following year and 16% in the second year.

"It's not overwhelmingly common," Dr. Christina Master, the study's lead researcher, said, "and just because you had one doesn't mean you're slam-dunk guaranteed to have another one."

Master says repeat concussions were more likely to happen if symptoms of the first were severe and lasted more than a month.

"Only about half of the concussions that kids sustain occur in sports," Master said. "The risk can sometimes get a little blown out of proportion. There's a risk in playing sports and yet there's also an upside to playing sports."

The Posencheg twins say they were back to sports after each of their concussions – as soon as they were cleared by doctors.

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"I do suffer from headaches occasionally," Hannah Posencheg said, "and sometimes I wear glasses to read because if I focus on small letters, it triggers headaches for me."

They both have what they call minor and manageable concussion side effects.

No big deal, they say.

"I'm not too worried," Hayden Posencheg said. "Not too scared."

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Master, who treated the twins, says rehab is a critical part of concussion therapy.

The study published Tuesday in Journal of Pediatrics also found that risk of repeat injury among the oldest kids – 11 to 15 years old – was almost twice as high probably because they're more involved with sports and other activities.

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