The Danger of Youth Sports Concussions

How to Identify, Prevent, and Treat Youth Sports Concussions

concussions-youth-sportsConcussions are a growing issue in the United States. According to the US  National Library of Medicine Journal for Athletic Training, 300,000 sports- related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, occur in the United States annually. Youth sports are the second highest cause of traumatic brain injury for ages 15 to 24, after motor vehicle crashes. Sports that involve high-speed collision and contact such as football, lacrosse, ice hockey, and rugby, have the highest rates of concussion.

The Journal of Athletic Training states that an estimated 19% of participants in contacts sports have a concussive injury over the course of the sport season. However, no sport is risk-free from concussions, including cheerleading. It is essential for coaches, players, and parents of players to know the necessary the signs of concussions and the methods to prevent them.

Biggest Misconception about Concussions

A common misconception about concussions is that they involve being knocked out or a person losing consciousness. That isn’t always the case. A concussion occurs when there is trauma to the head and a person’s mental status changes as a result of that trauma. If a child shows signs of mental confusion as a result of a blow to the head, he or she has suffered a concussion.

Aftermath of a Sports Correlated Concussion Sports

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Concussions caused by sports injuries can cause a variety of symptoms such as forgetfulness,  headache, difficulty to concentrate, and dizziness. Many athletes only experience symptoms for  around 10 days but in some cases, the symptoms can span over many months. Typically thought,  symptoms do not last for more than several months.

 Post-Concussion Syndrome occurs when a person poses persistent emotional, physical,  mental, or behavior symptoms. It is unclear whether persistent post-concussive symptoms result  from primarily medical or psychological causes. In rare cases, when repeated concussions occur  over a brief interval, athletes may suffer from second impact syndrome.

According to the US National Library of Medicine Journal of Neurotrauma,“the syndrome  occurs  when an athlete sustains an initial head injury and then suffers a second head injury  before the  symptoms associated with the first impact have cleared”. It is essential that parents  seek careful evaluation of their child’s concussion and learn how to appropriately manage it.

300,000 sports- related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, occur in the United States annually

The quicker the athlete is evaluated after impact, the better. It is important for medical evaluation to take place so that a professional can check the child’s level of consciousness, check his or her vitals, and rule out any other injuries. There are a variety of sideline concussion assessments that can be done but it is best to get the player checked by an emergency department at a hospital out of precaution. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines indicate the appropriate “Return to Play” progression for players so that they have a safe transition back to playing their sport after a concussion.

How to Prevent or Treat Concussions

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a free online course on concussion prevention for coaches, as well as fact sheets and information for parents and young athletes. The best way to prevent and treat concussions is to become educated.
If a child sustains a concussion, parents or coaches should seek medical care as soon as possible. When at the doctor, request a description of symptoms of post-concussion syndrome or worsening brain injury. Also, discuss with the doctor the guidelines for your child returning to his or her sport and when you should have a follow-up appointment to check his or her progress.

Resources:
HEADS UP Concussion in Youth Sports initiative
http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/

Concussion in Youth Sports: Ohio’s Return-to-Play Law
http://www.healthy.ohio.gov/concussion.aspx

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