What can be done about sports concussions in young athletes?

Parents pulling kids out of sports more often as result of concussions

This article was written and paid for by the Detroit Medical Center.

It's an issue that's becoming more of a topic for parents of young athletes each year.

Sports concussions and their effects are increasingly changing the game for athletic participation nationwide, whether it's forcing parents to have their kids switch the sports they play or simply pulling them from athletics entirely.

Statistics regarding concussions -- provided by BrainLine, which provides information and resources about treating and living with traumatic brain injury -- definitely validate the increasing concerns parents have. According to BrainLine:

  • An estimated 3.8 million concussions occur in the U.S. per year during competitive sports and recreational activities.
  • Teens and children make up approximately 70% of all sports and recreation-related concussions seen in emergency rooms. 
  • Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and can take longer to recover than adults. 
  • Athletes who have had a concussion at any point of their lives have a greater chance of getting another concussion. 

What is a concussion?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by an impact -- a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or a blow to the body -- that changes the way your brain normally works.


What are symptoms of a concussion?

Symptoms of concussions can last for days, weeks, or even longer. According to Detroit Medical Center sports medicine experts, some of those signs may include: 

•    Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
•    Temporary loss of consciousness
•    Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
•    Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
•    Dizziness or "seeing stars"
•    Ringing in the ears
•    Nausea
•    Vomiting
•    Slurred speech
•    Delayed response to questions
•    Appearing dazed
•    Fatigue

What is the best way to prevent a concussion?

Wearing the proper protective equipment, depending on the sport, is the best way to reduce the risk of a sports concussion. Helmets in sports such as football and hockey should be properly fitted, maintained well and worn consistently. 

Coaches instructing players on proper techniques in contact sports is another way concussions can be limited. 

The use of mouth guards can also reduce the risk of concussions because they help absorb blows to the chin that can often vibrate through the jaw and into the skull. 

Players suspected of sustaining a concussion should be removed from the field and seek medical attention right away.

Players should only be allowed to return to their sport when a medical professional determines that they have completely recovered from their concussions. If a player keeps playing the game with a concussion, risk of brain hemorrhage, swelling and other long-term problems increases.

To learn more about sports concussions, or if you suspect your child has a concussion, contact the Children's Hospital of Michigan's Concussion Clinic immediately.