A new report discovered inadequacies in what is known about the risk of concussion or traumatic brain injury for younger athletes, especially for those who are involved in sports before high school. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council stated that it is time to create a national system to study sports-related concussions.
New guidelines make clear that no matter the athlete’s age, anyone suspected of having a concussion needs to be taken out of play immediately and not allowed back until cleared by a physician.
“Concussion is an injury that needs to be taken seriously. If an athlete has a torn ACL on the field, you don’t expect him to tape it up and play,” said IOM chairman Dr. Robert Graham.
Although millions of U.S. children and teenagers play sports, it is not clear how many suffer concussions, partly because many go undiagnosed. However, this report discovered that among people 19 and younger, 250,000 reported treatment for concussions and other sports-related brain injuries in 2009.
For male athletes in high school and college, concussion rates are highest for football, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling. For females, soccer, lacrosse and basketball have the highest chance of concussion. College and high school sports injuries are monitored fairly well, but there is no similar data to know how often younger children get concussions.
The study stressed young athletes should wear helmets and other sport-appropriate safety gear, because they guard against not only concussions, but skull fractures and facial injuries as well.
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