The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that emergency room visits for sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, increased among children by 60 percent over the last decade.
The number of injuries rose from 153,375 in 2001 to 248,418 in 2009, researchers found, mostly following accidents during bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer.
The CDC says that the rise in number may not be due to changes in how children play sports or use playground equipment. Instead, researchers attribute the increase to a raised awareness among parents, coaches, and the general public of the importance of seeking medical care after a head injury.
Children may be more vulnerable to long-term effects of TBIs than adults. TBI symptoms may appear mild, researchers say, but the injury can lead to significant life-long impairment affecting an individual's memory, behavior, learning, and/or emotions. Appropriate diagnosis, management, and education are critical for helping young athletes with a TBI recover quickly and fully.
"While some research shows a child's developing brain can be resilient, it is also known to be more vulnerable to the chemical changes that occur following a TBI," said Richard C. Hunt, M.D., director of CDC's Division for Injury Response.
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