Kids: not as hardheaded as we thought

By: Lauren Harper

Concussions in kids is on the rise, with football being the sport in which the most concussions are sustained in kids. Photo courtesy of Google images

Kids always seem to be getting hurt, whether from a scraped knee, a broken arm, or multiple bruises. But as more and more kids are participating in organized sports like soccer and football, these injuries are beginning to get more serious and much more frequent. In fact, in the past decade, the number of concussions in kids has doubled, according to a new study.

            The exact cause of this significant increase is not fully known, but Brown University pediatric emergency medical specialist Lisa L. Bakhos stated that, “We know that kids are bigger now than they were in the past, which could be contributing to this trend. And sports seem to be more competitive.” It has also been found that football results in the most head injuries in kids, and that girls have a higher risk of contracting a head injury than boys. This is due to weaker neck muscles, and to the fact that girls, ironically, are known to play more aggressively than guys do in sports.

            Thanks to an increase in attention for sports-related concussions, coaches these days are much more avid in their efforts to prevent severe head traumas in their players. According to Mark E. Halstead, a pediatric sports injury specialist of Children’s Hospital St. Louis, “When I started practicing sports medicine about 11 years ago it was common to send a kid with concussion symptoms back into a game 10 or 15 minutes after symptoms resolved. That doesn’t happen as much these days,” he stated.

            When someone gets a concussion, the brain bumps into the skull and brain cells fire off all at one time, similar to a seizure. Concussions can be sustained by any trauma to the head, and symptoms of concussions include loss of consciousness after head trauma, confusion, headache, nausea or vomiting, blurred vision, and short-term memory loss. It has also been found that once one concussion is had, the likelihood of having another concussion is heightened. With kids, this is crucial because after the initial concussion they may sustain in a Peewee football game, more concussions may come in the years after that and the more head trauma they will receive as a result. If a child does receive too much head trauma, there could be long-term consequences.

            Though there are factors that play into whether or not a child should discontinue playing a sport after multiple concussions, it is recommended for players to not play after more than three severe concussions. After Nashville, Tennessee resident Kent Jones’ son, Mick, suffered three concussions from both football and a car accident, he opted to retire his son’s football jersey. Organized sports are without a doubt beneficial in keeping kids healthy and active, but Jones makes a good point in saying ,“Kids have a long life to lead and it doesn’t make sense to risk brain damage or worse just so they can play little league football.”

  1. Hi-
    I am an undergraduate Athletic Training student at Central Michigan University. I am doing a research project on overuse pediatric injuries, and I am making a poster. I was wondering if I could have copyright permission to use the picture of the boys playing football on this page. If you could email me back, I would appreciate it.
    Thank you!

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