In honor of Youth Sports Safety Month, let’s visit a topic that has many parents and coaches concerned when it comes to young athletes: concussions.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in which an impact to the body – usually a blow to the head or any hit resulting in whiplash – causes the brain to move within the skull.
When it comes to high school players, the risk is even more serious. According to the Sports Concussion Institute,
Recent research demonstrates that high school athletes not only take longer to recover after a concussion when compared to collegiate or professional athletes, but they also may experience greater severity of symptoms and more neurological disturbances as measured by neuropsychological and postural stability tests… Because the frontal lobes of the human brain continue to develop until age 25, it is vital to manage youth concussions very conservatively to ensure optimal neurological development and outcomes.
With the severity of concussion after-effects becoming more apparent down the line for athletes, waiting to return to play is vital. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).”
Headache and dizziness are the most common symptoms of a concussion, but almost half of people experience no symptoms and up to 90 percent of concussions occur when there is not loss of consciousness. Of those that do experience symptoms, it can take up to two weeks to recover.
Only neurological testing can determine if a concussion has occurred and when it’s safe to get back into the game. If you suspect a player has sustained a concussion, discontinue play and consult with a doctor immediately.
More concussion stats*:
- ER visits for sports-related concussions in high school athletes have risen about 60% between 2001 and 2009.
- Estimated 47% of athletes do not report feeling any symptoms after a concussive blow
- 5-10% of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sport season
- Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion)
- Soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion)
- 78% of concussions occur during games
- Concussion sufferers can take up to 2 weeks to recover
*According to the CDC and the Sports Concussion Institute.