Concussion Epidemic

Anna B., Health

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Are sports related concussions out of control? The CDC estimates that concussions have reached an epidemic level, with almost 1.6 – 3.8 million each year. First, what is a concussion? A concussion is a mild-to-traumatic head injury caused by a jolt, bump, or blow to the head or neck. The blow causes the brain to shake rapidly inside the skull. Symptoms are dizziness, disorientation, headache, nausea, and even loss of consciousness.

Recent studies have proven that sports-related concussions can lead to long-term damage in athletes, even life-threatening if not examined properly. Just in the past few years, 4,500 professional football players filed and won a lawsuit alleging that the National Football League failed to protect them from the disastrous long-term health consequences of concussions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, and early on-set Alzheimer’s. It has also been proven that athletes who obtain a concussion are three times more likely to obtain another, or inflict one on someone else.

I play competitive lacrosse and I have had four concussions over a seven-year period, one where I forgot who I was and where I had been for over five hours. It’s amazing I even remember my multiplication tables. Even a mild “ding” to the head can be detrimental, and needs to be taken seriously. Although most high schools follow the baseline testing rule before allowing an athlete back on the field, most coaches follow the “how many fingers am I holding up?” rule. Allowing a player back onto the field after a serious blow to the head can be dangerous and even life threatening.

So how do we continue to protect our athletes?  Sports are integrated into our culture so how do we further stop injuries? Well, we can’t, but rules can be followed; proper equipment, safety rules, and good sportsmanship can all help prevent a traumatic head injury.

The numbers below are the amount of sports-related concussions taking place per 100,000 athletic exposures (one athlete participating in a practice or competition).

Football: 64 -76.8

Boys’ Ice Hockey: 54

Girls’ Soccer: 33

Boys’ Lacrosse: 40 – 46.6

Girls’ Lacrosse: 31 – 35

Boys’ Soccer: 19 – 19.2

Boys’ Wrestling: 22 – 23.9

Girls’ Basketball: 18.6 – 21

Girls’ Softball: 16 – 16.3

Boys’ Basketball: 16 – 21.2

Girls’ Field hockey: 22 – 24.9

Cheerleading: 11.5 to 14

Girls’ Volleyball: 6 – 8.6

Boys’ Baseball: Between 4.6 – 5

Girls’ Gymnastics: 7

 

Sources:

Department of Health and Human Services (US), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sports-related recurrent brain injuries – United States. MMWR. 1997;46(10):224-27.

“Head Case – Complete Concussion Managements.” Stats on Concussions & Sports – Head Case – Complete Concussion Managements. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

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Concussion Epidemic