Concussions in Sports: Protecting Youth from Brain Injury
Emergency room visits for concussions in organized youth sports have increased dramatically. States have adopted various state laws to remove youth suffering head injuries from athletic games and not return until approved by a medical professional.
Download the Excel Version of the Table: "Concussion Rates in High School Sports"
Emergency room visits for concussions in organized youth sports have increased dramatically. ER visits for 14- to 19-year-olds more than tripled over a 10-year period, from about 7,000 in 1997 to nearly 22,000 in 2007. Visits doubled among ages 8 through 13, from 3,800 to almost 8,000.
- While organized team sport participation declined from 1997 to 2007, emergency department visits for concussions increased among both young children and teens.
- Concussions represent an estimated 8.9 percent of all injuries to high school athletes.
- Girls are reported to have higher rates of head injury than boys in similar sports. Some reasons may include the reluctance of boys to report injury or the smaller neck muscle mass of girls.
- In a fact sheet for coaches, CDC says, “A concussion is an injury that changes how the cells in the brain normally work. Even a ding, ‘getting your bell rung,’ or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.”
- Athletes who have previously had a concussion are at increased risk for another concussion.
- Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
- The first suggested legislation, entitled Sports Concussions, is modeled on an Oregon bill adopted in 2009. It requires annual training of coaches to recognize signs of concussion, removal of students from practice or games after a head injury and written clearance from a health care professional before return to play.
- The second piece of SSL, which comes from a Washington 2009 law, has the “remove and refer” provisions of the Oregon bill, as well as liability protections for school districts for injuries suffered by youth who participate in youth programs on school property. It also requires young athletes and their parents or guardians to sign a concussion fact sheet to be eligible to play.
- Besides Oregon and Washington, 10 other states had laws on the books prior to 2011 that contain provisions to protect youth sustaining concussions during school sports.
- Eight more states have passed legislation in their 2011 legislative sessions. As of May 2011, nearly half of all states have adopted a bill to protect student athletes suffering concussions.
- Bills are pending in several state legislatures still in session.