Increase in Youth Sports Concussions and TBI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that shows a marked increase in hospital emergency room for sports related concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), especially for young males aged 10 to 19 years. The study, which looked at ER visits over 2001 to 2009, showed a 60% total increase for sports related brain injuries, to almost 250,000 ER admissions in 2009. Given the current focus on managing the consequences of sports concussions, I expect this number to rise further for 2010 and 2011.

**NEW: Concussion Testing Guide Available.**

Digging into the CDC data reveals some interesting points for parents, physicians, and school athletic departments to consider:

  • Cycling and Football were the top two activities that brought children and teenagers to the ER for concussion and brain injury symptoms (over 25,000 visits each).
  • The highest percentage rates per activity for concussion/TBI were for horseback riding (15%), ice skating (11%), golf (!!) (11%), and all terrain vehicle riding (10%).

The alarmingly high TBI rate for golf doesn’t make much sense until one considers that fact that most 16 year old males will drive a golf cart like it is an ATV — in which case the nearly identical TBI percentages for golf and ATV riding make perfect sense.

In addition to football, this highest aggregate number of ER admissions for team sports activities are basketball, soccer, and baseball. Many school athletic departments are implementing concussion detection and management policies in response to increased public attention on the negative health effects of multiple concussions.

Many states are also passing legislation that requires schools and colleges to proactively detect and monitor concussions in all student athletes. Baseline cognitive testing with computerized concussion test systems is one efficient method for handling this requirement.