by Dr. Daniel Rancier
There is little doubt that we are learning more each day about the effects of concussions. Whether it is in youth-related, high school, college or professional level sports, there is a much more of a concerted effort towards trying to protect individuals when they have symptoms of a concussion.
Naturally, sports and recreational activities provide higher risks to a person simply due to their nature. However, sports such as football and soccer provide the greatest risks for young athletes given the physical nature and rules of the games.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) presents some alarming facts regarding concussions referenced in this article from the Sports Concussion Institute.
- The CDC estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions happen each year.
- During a typical season, they estimate that anywhere from 5% to 10% of athletes will experience a concussion during that season.
- Less than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness.
- For males, the risk of a concussion is highest in football, as high as 75%.
- For females, soccer is the highest risk sport for concussions and at an estimated at 50%.
So, what is a concussion? It is trauma to the brain which is by either a direct blow to the head or an indirect hit to the body. In simple terms, it is a brain injury from the brain smacking the against the skull, and symptoms can include nausea, headaches, inability to concentrate or having memory lapses, being sad or irritable and possibly having problems sleeping, eating or having low energy levels.
Studies show that high school aged athletes take longer to recover from a concussion than college-aged young adults. Additionally, their symptoms are more severe. The reason for the greater severity may be because the frontal lobe of the brain continues to develop until the age of 25.
Surprisingly, an estimated 53% of high school athletes have already had at least one concussion before their participation in high school sports.
Also, research indicates that once someone has had a concussion, their risk increases for having another. In fact, the risk continues to grow with each concussion, which is why it is important that each brain trauma is diagnosed to fully understand and help minimize future risks.
Additional studies show that females have a higher risk than males to sustain a concussion and that their symptoms can be worse and last longer.