Sports-related brain injuries for U.S. kids on the rise, CDC reports

Consumer Reports News: October 06, 2011 05:13 PM

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Emergency room visits for sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60 percent since 2001, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of hospital visits were due to injuries associated with bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer. For children ages nine and younger most injuries occurred during playground activity or while bicycling.

The number of emergency room visits varied by age and gender:

  • 71 percent of all visits were among males
  • 70.5 percent of visits were among persons aged 10-19 years

Injuries in children ages 10 to 19 also varied by activity and gender. Injuries among males most often occurred while playing football or bicycling, while females sustained injuries most often while playing soccer or basketball, or while bicycling.

In 2009, the most recent year that the CDC has data for, the number of traumatic brain injuries was 248,418, compared to 153,375 in 2001.

"We believe that one reason for the increase in emergency department visits among children and adolescents may be a result of the growing awareness among parents and coaches, and the public as a whole, about the need for individuals with a suspected traumatic brain injury to be seen by a health care professional," said Linda Degutis Dr. P.H., director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Research indicates that young athletes with a traumatic brain injury experience longer recovery times and are at greater risk of serious outcomes compared to adults. Symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to significant life-long impairment affecting an individual's memory, behavior, learning, as well as emotions.

"While some research shows a child's developing brain can be resilient, it is also known to be more vulnerable to the chemical changes that occur following a traumatic brain injury," said Richard Hunt M.D., director of the CDC's Division for Injury Response.

Concussions in young athletes: Don't rush to get back in the game
Sports and head injuries-when is it serious?
First down (and out cold); Football helmets fail to protect against concussions

Purchasing a bike helmet for your child? Check out our guide to kid and toddler bike helmets. Subscribers can also view our Ratings for kid and toddler bike helmets.

CDC finds 60 percent increase in youth athletes treated for TBIs [CDC]

Maggie Shader

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