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How prevalent are concussions in youth sports?

If your child plays sports, you likely expect some injuries to occur. Sports can be rough, from the intense physical activity to the high contact with other players, so getting hurt is no surprise. It may seem like something that just comes with being an athlete.

However, some injuries have worse consequences than others. One that has taken the spotlight in recent years is concussions, especially in youth sports. Are they really as common and as serious as the media portrays them to be?

The statistics

Statistics on the rise of concussions vary, with the highest report being a 500 percent increase from 2010 to 2014, reveals Sports Illustrated. The high number may be partially from greater awareness leading to an increase in reporting and doing so sooner, so the actual difference may not be as drastic.

Those who have the highest incidence rate of concussions are football players, followed by female soccer players, according to MedStar Sports Medicine. Females athletes across the board have the greatest risk. Having prior concussions also raises the odds of experiencing further ones.

The consequences

Concussions are serious for children because their brains have not finished developing yet. Full maturity happens around age 25. Before 14 years of age, the head is bigger than the rest of the body, the neck is weak and nerve fibers lack myelin (the protective sheath). These traits mean more damage to the brain after a concussion. Furthermore, helmets do not prevent concussions, as the injuries are a result of the brain hitting the skull.

The signs

Concussions do not always lead to blacking out or having headaches. Other signs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Poor sleep
  • Trouble with concentration and/or memory
  • Changes in mood and/or personality
  • Sensitivity to sounds and lights
  • Dazed appearance

If your child exhibits these behaviors, even if he or she seemed fine at the time of the incident, head to the doctor right away. The sooner treatment occurs, the better the chance of recovery.

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