Sports Injuries and Concussion
As we continue our series on leading causes of traumatic brain injury, in this post we discuss sports injuries. Athletics for kids and adults has become integral to our lives. Americans are more active than ever with various types of sports including ice hockey, cheerleading, basketball, football, soccer and cycling. Each of these sports has its joys and each of them can result in concussion.
The National Safety Council has noted that every ninety seconds somewhere in the United States a child is being treated for a concussion that has resulted from a sports activity. In basketball and soccer, girls are about five percent more likely to have a concussion than boys. Those studying kids’ sports concussions have not yet determined why girls are statistically more likely to suffer a concussion than boys. This could be related to biomechanics or could be due to some other reason, but the answer is not known. Although more high school level kids are more likely to have a concussion than younger kids, the numbers are increasing for younger kids.
Over ten percent of emergency room visits are related to sports injuries and concussion is more likely to happen during games, not during practices. Perhaps this is because games may be more intensely played than practices. Experts advocate that winning should not be the most important part of sports activities for kids. They argue that participation and teamwork should be valued highly and that to emphasize winning over everything else can lead to greater risk of injury.
Concussion Symptoms and Signs
The Centers for Disease Control have an extensive program dedicated to school sports for both parents and coaches. In HEADS UP: Concussion in School Sports, they urge coaches to take their young athletes out of play when a child or teen might have sustained a concussion. They emphasize the danger of allowing kids to continue to play with this type of injury and the long term affects that can occur. The information for parents and coaches includes preparing through knowledge, such as knowing the signs and symptoms of concussions and educating all concerned about how to avoid concussion and what to do if a child or teen may have been injured in this way. Parents’ communication with coaches is also encouraged. Here are some of the symptoms coaches and parents can watch for in a child or teen after an injury that might be a concussion:
- Failure to remember the hit or fall that caused the injury
- Seems to be confused or dazed
- Is unable to answer questions, or answers them with delay
- Doesn’t move in a normal way
- Become unconscious even for a brief time
- Seems irritable or agitated
It is equally important to get a sense of what the child or teen is experiencing subjectively and the symptoms they present. Among the symptoms that a child or teen may feel or report when they have sustained a concussion are:
- Feeling pressure in his or her head or a headache
- Feeling sick, nauseated
- Reporting vision problems or feeling dizzy
- Having a sense of foggy
- Having difficulty with recall
- Feeling confused
Parents and coaches should take all precautions necessary to remove the child or teen from play and then seek a medical evaluation for possible concussion. Getting help as soon as possible can help the young athlete heal from this injury. Once a health care provider has provided an evaluation and instructions on when it would be safe for your child to return to play, work closely with your school or coaches to make sure that your child is ready to return to play.