Concussion Rates Soar Among Younger Kids08/30/10
MONDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- High school-age athletes are
more likely than younger kids to have sports-related concussions,
but the rate of such injuries in both groups is on the rise, a new
U.S. study suggests.
From 1997 to 2007, emergency department visits for concussion in
kids aged 8 to 13 playing organized sports doubled, and the number
of visits increased by more than 200 percent in older teens,
according to the report.
In related news, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued
new guidelines on what to do about sports-related concussions, with
advice for both parents and physicians.
The study and guidelines are published online and in the
September print issue of
Awareness of concussions is increasing, according to Dr. Mark
Halstead, who co-wrote the new recommendations. Unlike the thinking
of a generation ago, concussions aren't something to "shake off,"
said Halstead, an assistant professor of pediatrics and
orthopaedics at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
"A concussion is an injury to the brain that is typically not a structural injury but a functional injury," he explained. He tells parents to think of it as a computer bug. "If a computer gets a virus, the computer doesn't function appropriately."
Parents should know that "no athlete should go back to play on
the same day they have their concussion. We recommend athletes who
have a concussion be evaluated by a medical professional before
they return to play," Halstead said.
There is no medication or treatment proven for concussion, other
than rest, he added. That means resting the body and the brain, he
Even homework, television and video games may worsen symptoms
after a concussion, according to the AAP guidelines, which say that
the young athlete may require a temporary leave of absence from
school. The child should also be restricted from physical activity
until there are no symptoms at rest or during exercise, the
Symptoms of a concussion generally resolve within about seven to
10 days, according to the AAP, but parents should seek additional
medical help if symptoms worsen.
"Worrisome signs for us are a progressively increasing headache, if a child is unable to move an arm or leg, worsening symptoms, repeated throwing up," said Halstead. "Those are things that should be evaluated sooner." Other symptoms include feeling lightheaded or confused or losing consciousness.
The guidelines also suggest that retirement from contact sports
should be considered for an athlete who has had multiple
concussions or who has suffered post-concussion symptoms for more
than three months.
Which sports are riskiest for concussions? For organized team
sports, concussions were most likely in football, as well as
basketball, soccer and ice hockey; for individual and leisure
sports, concussions were more likely during bicycling, playground
games and snow skiing, the researchers found. To reduce injuries,
the AAP recommends taking preventive steps, such as using
protective equipment and padding goalposts.
From 2001 to 2005, there were an estimated 502,000 emergency
department visits for concussion among U.S. kids aged 8 to 19 --
about half of which were sports-related -- and 8- to 13-year-olds
accounted for about one-third of the visits, according to Dr. Lisa
Bakhos and colleagues at Brown University, Injury Prevention Center
and Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence,
who analyzed information from two national databases for the
Although organized team sport participation declined from 1997
to 2007, emergency department visits for concussions increased
among both young children and teens, the study found.
The study and the guidelines will boost awareness of the
seriousness of concussions, said Dr. Gillian Hotz, director of the
concussion program in the department of neurosurgery at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"Most kids are OK [after a concussion]," Hotz said. But more information has evolved, and health care experts know to take concussions more seriously and to be sure kids are symptom-free before returning to play, she added.
Hotz suspects the number of concussions found in the study are
underestimates, pointing out that many children are not seen in the
emergency department but may visit their pediatrician instead, and
others may not get medical attention at all.
To learn more about what to do about suspected concussions,
American Academy of Pediatrics.
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