Youth sports organizations across the nation have recently joined forces with sports medicine professionals to create the National Sports Concussion Coalition. The goal of the coalition is to create a safer playing environment for youth athletes. Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars explains, “sports have the power to change the lives of millions of young people” and “we want to make sure no child loses that opportunity due to fear of injury.”
Recent reports show that Fall 2013 enrollment in youth football leagues is down compared to recent years. Parents are rightfully afraid to allow their children to participate in an activity that could cause lifelong damage. The Institute of Medicine released a report last week stating that in 2009, 250,000 people below the age of 19 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for concussions and other sport related brain injuries. This number is up from 150,000 in 2001. This study shows that as our culture becomes more aware of the risks of sports related brain injuries, the full number of children experiencing such injuries is finally becoming clear.
The signs of a concussion can often go unnoticed, and may not be immediately apparent. It is important to realize that you can have a concussion without losing consciousness or having a positive CAT scan, which is the opposite of what many young athletes and parents believe. While recovering from a concussion it is important to refrain from sports activities because this can significantly slow recovery. It is also important to protect against further brain injury as multiple concussions can compound the possible long term damage. With this new knowledge, after an injury parents are asking, should I let my child play and when? Hopefully the newly formed National Sports Concussion Coalition can help implement best practices and return-to-play guidelines that fully take into consideration the latest information concerning concussion safety.