Concussion risk with youth sports

Researchers rank the top 5

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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With school sports getting underway again, safety is top of mind.  as it turns out, a few of those sports put athletes at a higher risk for concussion. Cleveland Clinic Neurologist Dr. Charles Bernick says it's not just football parents who will worry.

"Concussion can occur in any sport where you're going to sustain a blow to the head. So, whether it's hockey, football, cheerleading, soccer, all of the sports can potentially cause concussion, now some sports are more prone to it because that is the nature of the sport," he explained.

In a 2011 study, researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics found football accounting for most concussions among kids in sports. Hockey is also near the top, but soccer is not far off-the-pace, with more concussions seen in girls soccer than in boys soccer. Wrestling and basketball complete the list of the top 5.

Cheerleaders are a staple at many sporting events, and a 2012 study found concussion making up 20 percent of all cheerleading injuries. It's estimated that there are about 4-million concussions reported by student athletes each year, but another 2-million that aren't reported. That's why Bernick says it's important both coaches and parents know what to look for.

"Being assured that the people that are coaching your child know what they're doing and are aware of concussion, you yourself be aware of concussion, and know the signs," he said.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also remind us that concussions just don't happen to athletes. They say it's good for all parents and teachers to know the signs of a concussion in the event of an accident at school, or at home.

Experts at Cleveland Clinic say the most common symptom of a concussion is a headache. This is an especially serious symptom if the headache gets worse over time, which might mean that there is bleeding in the skull.

Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • balance problems/dizziness
  • double or blurry vision
  • sensitivity to light and noise
  • fatigue or drowsiness
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • trouble comprehending and/or concentrating
  • depression
  • irritability, nervousness, or sadness
  • feelings of being "just not right" or in a "fog"

Other danger signs are:

  • seizures
  • not knowing people or places
  • unusual behavior

In children, the signs to seek emergency treatment include:

  • any of the adult symptoms listed above
  • will not stop crying or calm down
  • will not nurse or eat

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