If you are a sports fan and follow professional teams, you probably know that brain injuries are a serious issue. Few years ago I was shocked by Dave Duerson’s suicide because of suffering of brain disease, and now I’m worrying about my 20-year-old nephew, who just had a traumatic brain injury during a football game last weekend.
Brain injuries not only happen to professionals, but also happen to your kids. Almost 2 million children and teens — an average of 283,000 each year — were seen in emergency rooms across the United States for traumatic brain injuries between 2010 and 2016.
What are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)?
Traumatic brain injuries, which include concussions, are caused by impacts to the head or the body. They can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some symptoms may appear immediately while others may appear days or weeks later.
Many people assume they do not have an injury if they have not lost consciousness. But significant injury can occur without losing consciousness at all. Kids often say "I just got my bell rung" when a blow to the head causes ringing in the ears, but this is often symptom of a TBI. If left untreated, this can result in long-term complications or death.
According to the newest report of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs increased with age, with children between 10 and 17 having the highest rates. And boys received them at twice the rate girls do. These may be because older boys participate in contact sports more often than girls and younger kids.
What are high-risk sports?
Sports that are most likely to send children to ERs include:
These sports resulted in twice as many emergency visits for TBIs as did non-contact sports like badminton, and four times as many as recreational activities like playing on a playground.
How to prevent TBIs
The CDC recommends parents take the following precautions:
—Work with the kid’s coach to teach ways to lower the risk of getting a concussion.
—Emphasize the importance of reporting concussions and taking time to recover from one.
—Ensure they are following the coach’s rules for safety and rules for the sport.
—Tell kids that you expect them to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
As long as there are sports, there will be injuries from time to time. But if your kid can play the right way, he or she is less likely to be injured.