Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More study urged on concussions in young athletes

WASHINGTON — No one knows how often the youngest athletes suffer concussions. It's not clear if better headgear is the answer, and it's not just a risk in football.

A new report reveals big gaps in what is known about the risk of concussion in youth sports, especially for athletes who suit up before high school.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council on Wednesday called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and start answering those questions. Despite a decade of increasing awareness of the seriousness of concussions, the panel found young athletes still face a "culture of resistance" to reporting the injury and staying on the sidelines until it's healed.

"Concussion is an injury that needs to be taken seriously. If an athlete has a torn ACL on the field, you don't expect him to tape it up and play," said IOM committee chairman Dr. Robert Graham, who directs the Aligning Forces for Quality national program office at George Washington University.

"We're moving in the right direction."

But the panel found evidence, including testimony from a player accused by teammates of wimping out, that athletic programs' attention to concussions varies.

Why is the study important?

Reports of sports concussions are on the rise, amid headlines about former professional players who suffered long-term impairment after repeated blows. Recent guidelines make clear that anyone suspected of having a concussion should be taken out of play immediately and not allowed back until cleared by a trained professional.

Millions of U.S. children play school and community sports, but how many suffer concussions?

That information is not clear, in part because many go undiagnosed. But Wednesday's report said among people 19 and younger, 250,000 were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in 2009, up from 150,000 in 2001.

Which sports have the highest concussion rates?

For male athletes in high school and college, concussion rates are highest for football, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling. For female athletes, soccer, lacrosse and basketball head the list. Women's ice hockey has one of the highest reported concussion rates in college.

Should I let my child play the sports they're asking me to play?

College and high school sports injuries are tracked, but there's no similar data to know how often younger children get concussions, whether on school teams or in community leagues, the IOM panel said.

"If we don't have that type of data on the national level, it's very difficult" to know, said sports injury specialist Dawn Comstock of the University of Colorado, who reviewed the report.

Could safety gear prevent kids' concussions?

Some equipment ads make that claim. But there's little scientific evidence that current sports helmet designs or other gear, such as face masks or headbands for soccer, really reduce the risk, the panel cautioned. Still, it stressed that youngsters should wear helmets and other sport-appropriate safety gear, because they guard against other injuries, including skull fractures and face injuries.

More study urged on concussions in young athletes 10/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.