Sports Concussions

Sports & recreational activities contribute to 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.

National Safe Kids & The American Academy of Pediatrics

Concussions affect approximately 10% of high school football players and a significant number in other sports. Many of these young athletes will have symptoms lasting more than a week, with a smaller group experiencing multiple concussions or significant and unremitting symptoms.

A concussion should not be taken lightly. While most children recover quickly from simple concussions, they are at 4 times greater risk to experience another one. Repeated concussions can cause serious damage to the brain. This past fall, a high school football player in New Jersey died from a sports concussion that followed a previous concussion – a condition referred to as second impact syndrome. A recent report indicated that several NFL players who died young were found to have brain deterioration more consistent with decline in the elderly. These cases argue for conservative practice with concussions and raise concerns for parents of young athletes.

Following concussion, it is important that a child not return to competition until cognitive, emotional, motor and balance return to normal. This should be ensured through an examination by a physician and monitoring of appropriate return-to-play protocols by coaches and trainers.

NY high schools are regulated and must take children out of games after a concussion, but local leagues are not trained to notice concussions and may not follow the recognized federal guidelines for protecting children afterwards.

Additional Resources

HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Online Training from the CDC
This online course from the CDC offers student athletes, parents, coaches and educators the opportunity to learn a broad range of TBI topics, including how to prevent and respond to these injuries.