Traumatic Brain Injury in Young Atheletes

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The latest issue of the Clinical Advisor reported some shocking statistics about TBI and young athletes. They are numbers from the US, but we can assume that the trends are similar in Canada. Millions of Canadian children regularly participate in sports, and are treated for concussions they sustain playing them.  While coaches, players and parents are being better educated to recognize the symptoms of concussions, we must make the effort to avoid them, and to avoid repeated concussions which have proven to be extremely dangerous.

Here are some of the facts brought out in the report:

  • the rate of sports and recreation related TBI in children under 19 years of age has increased by 60% over a decade ago
  • concussions represent 13% of all sports related injuries in schools
  • the rate of concussion increased 400% between 1998 and 2008 (this may be due to better awareness and reporting)
  • children take much longer to recover from concussion than adults
  • there is a sense that an injury described as "a concussion" is less severe than one described as a "TBI". Although they are the same thing, people treat them differently and return to activity prematurely with "concussions".

We have to teach our children and our coaches the signs and symptoms of concussions, and to encourage them to report symptoms. An injured player is not letting the team down by reporting an injury.