Study: 20 percent of teen athletes have suffered a concussion

In recent years, there’s been increased research into the impact of head injuries on athletes of all ages who play contact sports. Although significant media attention has focused on professional football players, parents, coaches and doctors are increasingly cognizant of the dangers of concussions and other brain injuries in high school athletes and those who are even younger.

Just how prevalent are concussions among teenage athletes? That’s what researchers set out to determine in a recently-published study. About one-fifth of participants (of both genders) in 8th,10th and 12th grades reported having suffered at least one concussion.

Those engaged in contact sports like football, wrestling and hockey were more likely to report diagnoses of multiple concussions during their young lives. White, male athletes in the upper grade levels were most likely to report having suffered concussions.

Of course, the concussion rate could be even higher, because the students surveyed self-reported their concussions. Likely, some suffered concussions that went undiagnosed.

The professor who authored the research published in the issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the more that is known about who suffers from concussions, the more that coaches and parents can do to prevent them. He called for trainers to keep records of concussions and be more vigilant about diagnosing them.

Concussions have varying symptoms. These include nausea, headaches, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping and depression. For most people, the symptoms eventually disappear. However, as we’ve seen with too many professional athletes, repeated concussions can lead to the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Repeated concussions can begin while kids are still very young and continue throughout their athletic careers in high school and college. Parents need to be aware of how their kids’ coaches and trainers manage athletes’ injuries. Do they take them off the field to be checked or are tell them to “tough it out” and get back out there?

If you believe that your child’s concussion or other brain injury could have been prevented or wasn’t properly handled — and he or she suffered harm as a result — you may want to explore your legal options.

Source: National Public Radio, “1 In 5 Teens Reports A Concussion Diagnosis,” Greta Jochem, Sep. 26, 2017

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