Posts Tagged ‘concussions’

The Biggest Sports Injury Story of 2014

The biggest, most pervasive sports injury story of the year has to be the effects of concussions on football players.

From professional to college to high school players, sports-related brain injuries have become a concern in football.

Studies show that the effects of multiple concussions can be long lasting, including depression, cognitive problems, and even an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.college football concussions

Thousands of retired National Football League (NFL) players who have suffered concussion-related injuries and disabilities filed a class-action lawsuit against the league, claiming that it did not do enough to protect their health and did not tell them about the long-term dangers of repeated head injuries.

Public awareness of the dangers of concussions was again raised after Ohio State University defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, who had a history of concussions during his college career, was found dead in late November as the result of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In early December, a study found that high school football players may develop impact-related brain changes over the course of a single season.

Players who experienced higher levels of head impacts showed the most changes, even in the absence of concussion.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker may have worn a larger helmet to help him prevent further concussions in this year’s Super Bowl game, but even hits to the head that don’t result in concussions can affect athletes’ brains and may impact learning.

This makes some athletes more susceptible to repeated head impacts that do not involve concussions.

NEW LAWS, MORE AWARENESS

The good news is that new laws regulating concussion treatment plus awareness of concussions have resulted in a large increase in the treatment of concussion-related injuries for school-age athletes, according to a new study published online on December 22, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics.

A University of Michigan study designed to evaluate the impact of new concussion laws found a 92% increase in children seeking medical assistance for concussions in states with the legislation in place.

States without concussion laws showed a 75% increase in those seeking injury-related health care.

“There are two stories here,” said senior author Steven Broglio, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and Director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory.

“First, the legislation works.

The other story is that broad awareness of an injury has an equally important effect. We found large increases in states without legislation, showing that just general knowledge plays a huge part.”

As of 2014, all states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that outline medical care for young athletes.

The laws differ slightly, but most call for education of coaches or students, the immediate removal of an athlete from a game, or medical clearance before an athlete can return to a sport.

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES

Another way to prevent brain injuries may be to add a vision-based test to evaluate athletes on the sidelines.

This may allow sports medicine doctors to better detect more athletes with concussion more quickly, which is particularly important since not all athletes reliably report their symptoms of concussion, including any vision problems.

Others are taking a more technological approach to protecting players.

Several companies have put sensors or magnets in helmets or mouth guards to detect or absorb the forces of hits to the head, with the hope of further reducing the risk of brain injury to young athletes.

The sensors cannot prevent or diagnose a concussion, but they can alert coaches and trainers to take the proper steps to determine if a player has a concussion.

Let’s hope that these and other safety measures are made at all levels of football and translate into fewer concussions next year.

Most Dads With Football-Related Concussions Want Young Sons Playing Tackle Football

Despite increasing awareness about concussion dangers for young athletes, a new national survey reveals 90% of men who played tackle football at the high school level or higher who suffered or suspected they suffered a concussion want their sons to play tackle football.

Not only that, nearly half (43%) believe there is too much hype over concussions.

Of all football-playing dads polled, 77% say tackle football is safe for children under age 12 even though more than 3 in 5 of these dads suffered a concussion themselves during their playing days.

And even more surprising, dads say most moms (61%) agree with them that tackle football is safe for young athletes.

The survey of 300 dads who played tackle football at the high school level or higher, was commissioned by the non-profit arm of i9 Sports, the nation’s first and fastest growing youth sports franchise.

Other survey results show:

• 53% of football dads say kids who play tackle sometimes think getting a concussion “is cool” or “a status symbol” that means you are “tough and play hard.”

• More than 1 in 3 football dads (36%) say their son’s competitive youth sports coach (any sport) is more interested in a win over safe play.

• Almost 1 in 5 football dads (19%) say despite concussion awareness, there have been no noticeable changes to the policies and procedures of youth sports.

“The startling results of this survey show even though concussion awareness is permeating youth sports today, often parents, young players and even coaches don’t heed the warnings,” says Brian Sanders, COO and President of i9 Sports, which has more than 550,000 members at 275 locations across the country.

“It’s scary to us that dads who suffered concussions encourage their young sons to play tackle football at a young age.

Studies show a concussion can be more dangerous for young athletes because their brains are still developing.”

To help ensure the health and safety of young athletes, the Centers for Disease Control has developed the “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” initiative to offer information about concussions to coaches, parents, and athletes involved in youth sports.

The Heads Up initiative provides important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion.

“Because we’re getting better at recognizing the symptoms, we are seeing more kids come into our clinics who’ve been hit in the head and are complaining of concussion symptoms,” said Steevie Carzoo, ATC, a certified athletic trainer with Sports Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

To make sure concussions are handled properly by everyone involved in a child’s life, experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital have developed one of the first, most comprehensive concussion toolkits available.

At a single internet site, there is information for everyone from athletes to parents, from teachers and counselors, to coaches and school administrators.

Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion, and take longer to recover, than adults.

Their symptoms may appear mild, but the injury can lead to significant time lost from school and even impairment that affects memory, behavior, learning, and emotions.

Appropriate diagnosis, management, and education are critical for helping young athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully.

Teenage Concussions: When In Doubt, Sit it Out

Teenage boys who play football suffer more concussions than any other high school athletes, but girls who play soccer and basketball, and boys who wrestle, play ice hockey or lacrosse also are at risk of head injury.

Nearly half (47%) of concussions among high school athletes happen on the football field, according to a new study published in the January issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine.

This data comes from a large, national sample of US high schools who reported injury data for 20 sports during the 2008-2010 academic years.

“Although interest in sports-related concussions is usually focused on full-contact sports like football and ice hockey, concussions occur across a wide variety of high school sports,” conclude the authors from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, led by researcher Natalie McIlvain.

Most of the head injuries happened when players collided with each other, but even some children in non-contact sports, such as softball, gymnastics, cheerleading and swimming, suffered blows to the head.

Girls having a 70% higher concussion rate than boys in “gender-comparable” sports.

It’s not clear why, but it may have to do with lesser neck strength among girls, said Christy Collins, a senior research associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“The real danger is returning to play too soon,” Collins says.

To prevent concussions, young athletes should learn to play by the rules of the game and be in good physical shape when they start playing, writes Jane Gillett, MD, in Brainline

“Someone who is unable to keep up with the pace of the game is more likely to get hurt,” writes Gillett.

“And practicing the skills of the game in a non-competitive manner through drills and structured workouts help athletes hone the necessary skills like being aware of where others are in play, where the ball is, and ways to improve balance, mobility, and hand/eye coordination.

Another important component is to teach your young athlete sportsmanship.

That means not to take things said or done as a personal attack and not to respond to an aggressive act by becoming more aggressive themselves.

Being a role model in ‘turning the other cheek’ will help demonstrate this behavior.”

The coach should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion — being dazed, confused, stunned, or even experiencing a brief loss of consciousness, according to Gillett.

Other symptoms include headache, dizziness, and transitory memory loss of the event or of events earlier that day.

“The coach should then keep the player out of the game and future games until the effects of the concussion are truly gone … and only with an official doctor’s note of approval,” writes Gillett.

“For players, coaches, and parents, the philosophy to remember is: when in doubt, sit it out.”