JAN 25, 2019 8:00 AM PST

Concussions In Youth Sport

WRITTEN BY: Abbie Arce

Reports of concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, in youth sports are on the rise. These injuries are most prevalent in contact sports where hard hits or falls are common. A concussion occurs following a hit or fall when the impact causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. This can cause symptoms like dizziness, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, difficulty concentrating, headache or in extreme cases vomiting.

These injuries may even occur when the head does not make contact with a hard surface if the force is great enough. Over time these dangerous brain injuries are related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. Not only do concussions themselves pose a risk but even repetitive subconcussive hits that occur without symptoms can cause damage. It is also thought that having sustained repeated blows to the head contributes to rates of strokes in youth.

Many young athletes are surrounded by a sporting culture that values the motivated player who can tough it out through hard games. Additionally, parents want play-time for their kids. Due to numerous internal or external pressures like these, concussions often go unreported by players so that they may continue to participate. Despite the emphasis from players, coaches and parents on play time, studies show that time spent at play is directly related to how many concussions an athlete is likely to suffer.

Besides, players and coaching staff alike may not recognize concussions when they do occur. These factors mean that despite an increase in the number of concussions being reported, statistics likely show only a fraction of the brain injuries sustained by young athletes. Furthermore, statistics are not taking count of the repetitive subconcussive forces that have also been identified as dangerous to the brain.

Part of the reason that concussions are now receiving much attention in the news is due to an attempted cover-up by the National Football League (NFL). The NFL even backed out of a signed agreement to fund research on CTE at Boston University. The study, lead by a critic of the NFL and prominent expert on neurodegenerative diseases, Robert Stern sought to highlight the association between playing football and destruction of the brain.

For young players, some sports have been identified as more dangerous than others. The most risk is associated with contact sports which contain repeated impacts. These high-risk games include rugby, American football, and ice hockey. Sports with lower risks include basketball, cheerleading, and golf. Spreading youth play over a variety of sports, some with lower risk, can help athletes stay active while protecting their brains from this type of injury.

It’s essential for players who have a concussion to be diagnosed early on and to take appropriate measures once diagnosed to heal adequately. Risks to the athlete increase after each concussion sustained, particularly when they occur close together and sufficient healing time was not provided.

The above video from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine discusses concussion in young athletes and why these injuries should be taken seriously.

 

 

Sources: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and MedicineThe British Journal of Sports Medicine

About the Author
  • Abbie is an AFAA certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with an interest in all things health-science. She has recently graduated with her BS in Applied Sport and Exercise Science from Barry University in Miami. Next, she intends to earn an MPH with a focus in Epidemiology.
You May Also Like
MAR 29, 2021
Cardiology
Learning More About How Stress Breaks the Heart
MAR 29, 2021
Learning More About How Stress Breaks the Heart
Scientists are learning more about what causes a real phenomenon known as broken heart syndrome, or stress-related cardi ...
MAY 19, 2021
Immunology
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
MAY 19, 2021
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
A research group from Switzerland hypothesized that immune cells in the gut (gastrointestinal tract) must trigger chroni ...
JUL 30, 2021
Cardiology
Just a Bit of Breastfeeding Can Give Kids a Cardiac Benefit
JUL 30, 2021
Just a Bit of Breastfeeding Can Give Kids a Cardiac Benefit
Researchers wanted to know more about how long it would take for breastfeeding to have a positive impact.
AUG 08, 2021
Cardiology
Strong Links Between PTSD and Heart Disease
AUG 08, 2021
Strong Links Between PTSD and Heart Disease
The link between heart disease and stress is well known, but researchers still have a lot to learn about that associatio ...
AUG 17, 2021
Health & Medicine
Heart Attack and Stroke Related to COVID19- The Importance of Prevention
AUG 17, 2021
Heart Attack and Stroke Related to COVID19- The Importance of Prevention
The historic scientific breakthrough of vaccination has prevented lifelong disability from Polio, scarring from Mea ...
SEP 26, 2021
Cardiology
New Type of Artificial Heart Tested in Several Patients Shows Promise
SEP 26, 2021
New Type of Artificial Heart Tested in Several Patients Shows Promise
In July, a new type of artificial heart was been implanted for the first time in a US patient at Duke University Medical ...
Loading Comments...