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Study finds girls continue to play soccer with concussion symptoms

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PECULIAR, Mo. -- A concussion is a brain injury. A new study in JAMA Pediatrics finds in middle school that girls who play soccer, more than half who'd had a concussion continued to play with symptoms. That increases the chances of more severe injury and even death.  For some others, the problem is there are no symptoms right away.

Adri Miller has her focus back. She lost it in late August.

"It was like 'Wow. I feel weird.' I started getting headache, nausea and everything," recalled Miller.

The Raymore-Peculiar High School sophomore had suffered a concussion after her head hit another girl's head in a club soccer game. But the symptoms didn't appear until two days later. In the meantime, Adri played two more games, putting her at risk of more severe damage and even death if she'd taken another hit.

"It was really frightening. I was like 'What if that would have happened?'" said Miller.

The executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri says it's one of the frustrating things about concussions.

"The symptoms don't always show up right away," said Maureen Cunningham.

The Brain Injury Association is the sponsor of a free seminar on Wednesday, January 22, at the Gladstone Community Center.  It's for coaches of all sports, all ages, as well as athletic program administrators, athletic trainers, game officials, physical education teachers, school administrators and school nurses.

Go to www.biamo.org or email info@biamo.org for more information and to register.

Cunningham says there's a need for better recognition of who may have a concussion and awareness that you can't push recovery from one.

"You really need to follow the physician's orders and slowly return to play and return to learn," said Cunningham.

She said the brain needs rest from sports and from school work.  Miller stayed home a week, and she went half days the next week.  She had therapy, too, to regain focus and balance.

She returned to sports in November, and gets checked by her school's athletic trainer to make sure symptoms aren't recurring.  Miller tells other kids to tell adults if they've taken a hit.

"Telling your parents or anyone what you feel, how you feel," said Miller.

She also says don't rush to get back in the game.

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