Friday, August 9th, 2013
Young athletes suffer injuries–mostly strains, sprains, and fractures–about once every 25 seconds, resulting in around 1.35 million emergency room visits each year, according to a study by the organization Safe Kids Worldwide. Sports injuries, the group found, account for 20 percent of all ER visits by children. More from CBS News:
“We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports,” Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, said in a statement.
For the new report, researchers from the child injury awareness organization looked at emergency room data collected in 2011 on injuries related to the top 14 sports for kids, including basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, cheerleading and ice hockey.
The most common injuries were strains and sprains, followed by fractures, bruises and scrapes.
Especially concerning though were the researchers found about 163,000 of those ER visits — or 12 percent — were for concussions. That’s about one child concussed every three minutes, Safe Kids points out. Nearly half of the concussions (47 percent) occurred in children between 12 and 15 years old, a “disturbing” trend because younger children take longer to recover from concussions than older ones. Serious and potentially deadly brain swelling is also more common in young people with traumatic brain injuries than adults, the report added.
In March, the American Academy of Neurology issued new guidelines recommending that kids sit out of games after suffering a concussion until they have been cleared by a doctor.
Image: Boy playing football, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
The cumulative effect of repeated tackles and other head hits in football could now be measurable with a new method developed by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. More from ScienceDaily.com:
The metric, called Risk Weighted Cumulative Exposure (RWE), can capture players’ exposure to the risk of concussion over the course of a football season by measuring the frequency and magnitude of all impacts, said senior author of the study Joel Stitzel, Ph.D., chair of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist and associate head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.
The study is published in the current online edition of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
Based on data gathered throughout a season of high school football games and practices, the researchers used RWE to measure the cumulative risk of injury due to linear and rotational acceleration separately, as well as the combined probability of injury associated with both.
“This metric gives us a way to look at a large number of players and the hits they’ve incurred while playing football,” Stitzel said. “We know that young players are constantly experiencing low-level hits that don’t cause visible injury, but there hasn’t been a good way to measure the associated risk of concussion.”
Concussion is the most common sports-related head injury, with football players having the highest rate among high school athletes, according to the study. It is estimated that nearly 1.1 million students play high school football in the United States.
Image: Football player, via Shutterstock
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Monday, May 13th, 2013
The number one killer of young athletes is not concussion- or head injury-related, a group of youth sports safety advocates announced at a recent conference in Washington, DC. Instead, sudden cardiac arrest, typically brought on by a pre-existing, detectable condition that could have been treated, is the culprit in most sports-related deaths. Another lethal threat is heat stroke, which is considered to be completely preventable. The New York Times reports on the findings, and how safety advocates are trying to raise awareness of these risks:
Concussions are receiving attention nationwide, but death from a blow to the head is exceedingly rare. In contrast, a young athlete dies from a cardiac incident once every three days in the United States, researchers say. In hot months like August, heat stroke often causes the death of a young athlete every other day on average.
“Concussion victims almost always get a second chance,” said Laura Friend, an attendee at the Washington summit whose 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, died of sudden cardiac arrest while swimming at a Texas community pool in 2004. “When your heart fails from something that could have been treated — which happens all the time — you don’t have another chance. As someone told me, sudden cardiac arrest is not rare; surviving it is.”
Heat stroke, also known as exertional heat illness, has been a focus of sports safety advocates because of simple, common-sense preventive measures, like introducing gradual levels of exercise at the beginning of a sports season in hot temperatures.
“When my son died, people treated it as a freak thing,” said Rhonda Fincher, whose 13-year-old son, Kendrick, died in 1995 from heat stroke sustained during a season-opening football practice in northwestern Arkansas. “The ignorance was unacceptable because, unfortunately, it is not infrequent. And we should all know that.
“No healthy child should be sent off to a routine practice and die from it.”
Leaders of youth sports acknowledge that concussions have long been overlooked and that the injury deserves a period of heightened awareness, especially because of the potential for long-term consequences. But as the focus of the February conference organized by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests, there is a mounting worry that more hazardous health concerns are being disregarded because of the intense emphasis on brain injuries.
A sudden heart-related death is “so incredibly tragic and stunning that people aren’t comfortable putting it into the everyday conversation,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.
“I do wish, to some extent, it was something people talked more about,” Drezner added, “because we are getting to a place where we could prevent many of these deaths.”
Image: Girl with soccer ball, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Children and teenagers who sustain concussions during athletic play should sit on the bench until they have been evaluated–and cleared–by a medical professional, according to new guidelines released Monday by the American Academy of Neurology. The new guidelines, which are the first revisions to concussion management since 1997, don’t provide a set time before an athlete can return to play, but recommend that doctors evaluate the athlete and then make a determination of the safest time to return to the game. More from NBC News:
“The message we’re sending is that any time a concussion is suspected, even if you’re not sure, you should sit that player out until there has been an evaluation by a medical provider with concussion expertise,” said the guidelines’ lead author, Dr. Christopher Giza, an associate professor of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“We say: ‘If in doubt, sit them out’.”
Image: Kids playing footblall, via SUSAN LEGGETT / Shutterstock.com
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Monday, October 1st, 2012
A new book written by a neurosurgeon advises that tackling in football and heading in soccer should not be allowed until children are 14 years old and are showing signs of reaching puberty. The reason for the recommendation is that those practices are believed to cause concussions that can lead to developmental, learning, and other health problems as children grow. From CNN.com:
“If kids don’t have axillary (underarm) or pubic hair, they aren’t ready to play,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon at Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts and author of a new book, “Concussion and Our Kids.”
“And I have absolutely no problem with parents who want to hold a child out for longer, say 16 or 18.”
No tackling? No body checking before 14?
Heading a soccer ball before 14 in soccer might be sacrificed — if studies eventually bear out the debatable link to concussion — but tackling and body checking essentially define football and hockey.
In Cantu’s words, “These are sports in which smashing into your opponent isn’t just a possibility — it’s the object of the game.”
And there is some substance behind the argument for waiting until 14, says Cantu, not the least of which is protecting young, developing brains. At 14, he says, several things enhance the body’s ability to protect against head trauma.
Before 14, there is a size disparity between the head and the body, causing what concussion experts call a “bobble-head” effect — the head snaps back dramatically after it is hit.
“Our youngsters have big heads on very weak necks and that combination sets up the brain for greater injury,” said Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.
However, around age 14, a child’s skull is about 90% the size of an adult’s, and the neck and body are strong enough to steel the head against the force of a blow, according to Cantu. The more developed the neck muscles, the less dramatically the head (and thus the brain) is rocked after a tackle or a body check.
Image: Child with football, via Shutterstock
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