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More children going to the ER with sports-related concussions

Even as the dangers of head injuries from sports becomes more and more clear, more young people are being admitted in emergency rooms with sports-related brain trauma. That claim is according to a study in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics. Though the study contains some positive signs, the conclusion may cause readers to wonder if children who play football, soccer and other sports that frequently include blows to the head are receiving the proper protection.

The study was written by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They examined the records of their facility’s emergency room from 2002 to 2011. The study discovered that the number of kids brought to the ER to treat a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, jumped 92 percent in that time.

So why did the number of young athletes suffering TBIs appear to nearly double in just a decade? It may be that it is not ignorance of the need to protect young brains from injury. Just the opposite, according to one prominent neurosurgeon who has consulted several professional sports leagues on TBI issues. He believes the heavy media coverage of sports-related brain injuries in recent years has caused parents to be more aware of the symptoms of a potential TBI in their children.

These concerned parents may in turn be more likely to bring their children to the ER, at least as a precaution. That may explain why the number of ER visits to the study’s hospital has risen so sharply — even while the number of serious TBI cases has gone down.

Still, there is no proof that the jump in youth TBI cases in the ER is entirely due to better-educated parents. Parents whose children play football or other sports should remember to take precautions if their son or daughter appears to have suffered a TBI. These include getting him or her out of the game and looking for symptoms such as loss of consciousness, confusion, headaches, vomiting or trouble sleeping.

Source: ABC News, “Sports-Related Brain Injuries Landing More Kids in ERs,” Caroline Quinsey, M.D., Sept. 30, 2013


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