Concussions in Youth Sports

According to the CDC “Heads Up” Activity Report, published in 2008:

  • Concussions are the most commonly reported injury in children and teenagers participating in youth sports.
  • There are more than 38 million boys and girls, ages 5-18, playing in organized sports nationwide.
  • 65% of reported sport-related concussions came from the 5-18 age group.*
    • Note – many of “these injuries may be considered mild, they can result in health consequences such as impaired thinking, memory problems, and emotional or behavioral changes.”

In the Introducing Concussions post, we learned that children may be at a higher risk of concussions than adults because their brains are still developing. How then do we address this issue safely in our youth leagues? We create more awareness about the seriousness of concussions, and increased knowledge about their prevalance.

Engaging in any youth sport requires a knowledge of the risks. The American Journal of Sports Medicine conducted an eleven-year study on the rates of concussions in high school sports. They found that per 100,000 player games or practices, the number of concussions per sport are as follows:

You probably noticed that boys and girls’ lacrosse are the third and fourth sports with the highest incidence of concussed players at the high school level. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this. One, boys’ lacrosse helmets while designed for impact, are more focused on front hits to the head than sideways or rear hits. You can check this with the padding in any generic lacrosse helmet. The sides are considerably thinner than the rest of the helmet. Second, girls’ wear eye-protection, not helmets. Plus, there are possibilities of collisions and falls to the ground in girl’s lacrosse.

Now if you are a parent your first thought after reading this post may be to pull your child off the playing field and encase them in a room filled with bubble wrap. Please, avoid that temptation and remember that the above list is per 100,000 players. That means while thirty boys may get a concussion, there are 99,970 boys that do not get one. While focusing on that makes me breathe easier, we still have to check on the thirty that are concussed.

So how can we be responsible league administrators, coaches, and parents when a player sustains a concussion? Gear up folks, it is reading and quiz time.

The CDC provides the following educational materials to coaches, players, and parents. I highly recommend reading each of these downloads before stepping onto the field this Fall Season.

Lastly, I want as many coaches as possible to take the CDC Concussions in Youth Sports Online Training for Coaches. This is a short, free online training tool for youth coaches. You will learn about:

  1. Concussion Basics
  2. Recognizing Concussions
  3. Responding to Concussions
  4. Getting Back in the Game
  5. Concussion Prevention

While we cannot completely prevent concussions in youth sports, we can understand the seriousness of them and respond appropriately. Remember, when in doubt – sit them out.

Featured Image credit – www.post-gazette.com

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

About Lou Corsetti

Gordon is a born lacrosse official who played for ten years before realizing he'd much rather ref the game than play it. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and officiates youth, high school, and collegiate men's lacrosse games all over the southeast. His passion is educating and training officials, coaches, players, parents and all other fans on the rules of lacrosse, it's history, and how best to develop lacrosse in new areas.

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