Concussions Should Be a Concern in All Types of Kids’ Sports

Posted 11/16/2015 | By HealthCorps

In the last decade, professional sports like football have recognized the devastating consequences of concussions in athletes, especially multiple concussions. The findings have now prompted a closer look at how kids and teens participate in contact sports, and frankly all sports, and how the risk of concussions can be minimized. The findings also shed light on the need for immediate care if a concussion is suspected.

What is a concussion?

Any direct or indirect blow to the head can cause a concussion. The brain is temporarily pushed against a hard skull and then bounces back. This causes interruption and disruption of neurological and metabolic functions. There does not have to be loss of consciousness, and it is crucial to do an immediate assessment of the athlete’s ability to orient himself to time, place, his name and to test recall. After that, further assessments are necessary since 40% of concussions are initially missed.

Young, growing brains are very susceptible to concussions

Current data suggests that half of all emergency room visits by kids between the ages of 8 and 13 are due to concerns about a concussion sustained during physical activities or sports. According to that same data, kids who sustain one concussion are more likely to experience another, and those who experience two concussions have a threefold risk of having another. Sports like football, soccer and hockey have higher rates of concussions because these are contact sports. The danger is especially high for complications when the player denies symptoms or continues to play despite a hard hit.

Dangers of sports versus benefits

It’s important to weigh the dangers of concussions and other injuries versus the many benefits of sports and physical activities. This is especially true at a time when rates of obesity among kids and teens are alarming. Benefits from sports include cognitive, physical, emotional and social payoffs, so experts don’t want to discourage participation in sports. They do want parents and coaches to recognize that a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It’s an injury that needs to be carefully evaluated. And though kids who play contact sports have a higher risk of concussion, any sport has a risk.

Challenges during playtime

The problem is that during a game, a focused and adequate assessment of the injured athlete can be daunting. That’s why it’s so important to educate all individuals involved in sports. Sports have also become much more physical and athletes are bigger, heightening the risk of a serious concussion and aftermath. Basketball and gymnastics among both sexes has seen a rise in concussions. Swimming currently has the lowest rate of concussions.

Symptoms of a concussion

Every coach and parent should be familiar with symptoms of a concussion that can show up hours after the initial contact. Symptoms include:

• Headache, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, balance issues, sensitivity to noise or light
• Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly or inability to remember new information
• Excessive sleepiness or inability to fall or stay asleep
• Nervousness, sadness, moodiness, irritability

Seek medical attention for the injured athlete if any of these symptoms appear and especially if they get worse.

Choose to move but assess head injuries

Kids need to move and being involved in sports is an excellent way to involve them in fitness activities. Just make sure that if your child sustains any type of injury, especially a head injury or hit, that they are assessed correctly and get medical attention if there is even a suspicion of a concussion.

Sources:

CDC
New York Times

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