Concussions in youth sports is a hot news topic. If your child plays football, you may be wondering about the risk of concussion. The fact is, that risk is very real. However, keep in mind that concussions can be prevented and most athletes make a full recovery.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. When a blow to the body or head occurs, it causes the brain to move around in the skull. This damages cells and creates chemical changes in the brain. Most concussions in football are the result of helmet-to-helmet contact.
Concussions make the brain more vulnerable to further injury until it heals. Playing sports with a concussion can lead to long-term issues and can even be fatal.
Concussions are an epidemic in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between 2001 and 2009, emergency room visits for concussions among 8- to 13-year-olds increased 62%. However, one reason for the spike in visits is increased awareness about the importance of seeking immediate medical attention for head injuries.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the risk of concussions among 8- to 12-year-old tackle football players. In the study of 468 young athletes, 20 concussions occurred in 20 boys. Concussions were about 2.5 times more likely to occur in 11- to 12-year-old players compared with 8- to 10-year-olds. According to the findings, for every 1,000 athletic exposures—that’s each time a child steps onto a field for practice or a game—slightly more than two concussions occur in 11- to 12-year-olds.
Here’s how young athletes can prevent concussions:
If you have any signs of a concussion or just don’t feel right, stop playing immediately and tell an adult. Signs of a concussion include:
The CDC developed Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports for coaches, parents and athletes. Here is their four-step action plan when a concussion is suspected: