Concussions in Youth Sports: What Parents Need to Know and How to Prevent Them

Posted by The Urgency Room on Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Keywords: Concussions youth sports youth concussions concussion prevention

The danger and prevalence of concussions has made the brain injury a hot topic in the world of professional sports, and the discourse has trickled down to the youth sports level. With so much national discussion on the matter, it’s important for parents with children participating in sports, particularly contact sports such as football, soccer, and hockey, to educate themselves about the signs that a concussion has been sustained, and on the dangers that concussions can cause.

This post will provide parents with an overview about concussions, as well as the impact it has on youth sports.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain that results in temporary disruption in normal brain function. Concussions take place when a person suffers a significant blow to the head or violent shaking of the head. A big bump on the head can cause injury to the brain that affects brain function.

When a person sustains a concussion, the impact causes the brain to jolt or move. Your brain is made of soft tissue, and is cushioned beneath the skull by spinal fluid.

Common symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, nausea, headaches, sensitivity, unconsciousness, loss of balance, disorientation, confusion, trouble concentrating,fatigue and slurred speech. One does not have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. The severity of concussion symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Concussion symptoms may be brief and only last a few minutes. However, other have concussion symptoms that may go on for weeks.

The severity of a concussion can vary. Concussions are classified by increasing severity as Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3. To determine whether a concussion has been sustained and the severity, a medical professional should always be consulted.

Can Children Suffer Concussions?

Yes! Children can suffer concussions. In fact, they are more vulnerable to suffering concussions than adults for several reasons. Additionally, children are still growing and learning to master their physical movements. Because they are just developing their strength and coordination, children are at an increased risk of falling or colliding into objects that could lead to concussions. Children also commonly participate in youth sports. Sports-related concussions account for more than half of all emergency room visits by children aged 8-13 according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Concussions in Youth Sports

With the increased vulnerability of concussions for children and adolescents, concussions should be top of mind for parents with children participating in contact sports. The sports in which concussions are most likely to occur are football, soccer, and hockey. A child who suffers a concussion is one and a half times more likely to experience a second concussion, and those who have had two concussions have a threefold greater risk of the same injury happening again.

Both parents and coaches should be on the lookout for collisions that include a hit to the head, they should be removed from play immediately and tested for concussion symptoms and monitored before being allowed to re-enter the field of competition. Parents and coaches need to be proactive in detecting potential incidents, as the young athletes may not realize they have suffered a blow to the head or underreport symptoms due to a desire to continue with play.

How common place are youth concussions? At this time there is not enough data to support conclusive statistics of concussions in youth sports, but there are for high school sports. In a study conducted by Head Case, one in five high school athletes will sustain a sports concussion during the season, with football accounting for 47% of all reported concussions.

Preventing Concussions

The debate about concussions in youth sports largely hinge on the concern about the long-term effects of concussions. In certain cases of former NFL players, the long-term effects have included disabling problems with memory and thinking skills. A common misconception about concussions is that athletes at a lower level or play don’t suffer them as often as bigger and faster professional athletes. This is simply not true. For example, in the NFL in 2017 there were 281 concussions, which meant that about 16.57% of players in the NFL suffered a concussion during the season. That number is slightly less than the 20% one commonly cited for high school athletes.

As of now, the best step for preventing concussions in youth sports is to train young athletes to use proper fundamentals to avoid head-to-head contact. The CDC has different preventive measures for each youth sport that include proper tackling form in football, avoiding headers in soccer, and limiting the physical contact in hockey. However, preventing concussions outright is difficult. Some parents choose not to allow their children to participate in high risk sports, to prevent concussions, but concussions can occur in activities that aren’t considered contact sports such as baseball and basketball.

Treat Concussions and Head Injuries at the Urgency Room

If your child is displaying the symptoms of a concussion after a blow to the head in a youth sport, bring them in to receive medical care at The Urgency Room. We have three convenient locations in Woodbury, Vadnais Heights and Eagan. By seeking treatment at The Urgency Room, you spare yourself from sitting in the waiting room for long while your child’s symptoms get worse. Wait times at The Urgency Room are usually under 15 minutes and you can check out live waiting room times at each location here. By checking the wait time before you arrive, you’ll avoid an unexpected lengthy visit, such as is often the case when you seek treatment at the ER.

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