Childhood sports related concussion visits to emergency rooms tripled in ten years

Childhood sports related concussion visits to emergency rooms tripled in ten years

The number of child-athletes taken to emergency rooms (emergency departments) with concussion in the USA more than tripled, from 7,000 cases in 1997 to nearly 22,000 in 2007, according to an article published in the medical journal Pediatrics. The authors believe this is due to a greater awareness of head injuries, and possibly because sports have become more intense.

Even though awareness has improved, the authors stress that a significant number of children with concussion are never referred to a medical professional, so figures are probably much higher than the officially reported ones.

The aim of the study was to characterize ED (emergency department), also known as ER (emergency room) visits for childhood SRC (sport-related concussion) in pre-high school vs. high school athletes.

Although this study of 8 to 19 year olds in organized youth sports revealed a significant rise in emergency room visits, it may not necessarily mean total reported and unreported numbers have risen.

The study revealed that ER (emergency room) visits for concussion were:

  • 7,000 in 1997 for 14 to 19 year-olds.
  • Nearly 22,000 in 2007 for 14 to 19 year-olds.
  • 3,800 in 1997 for 8 to 13 year olds.
  • Almost 8,000 for 8 to 13 year olds.
Concussion is potentially a serious medical condition, the authors stress; something a significant number of parents, guardians and sports coaches are still not fully aware of. Too often, the focus is on getting the child back into his/her sport, rather than the risk of complications of the injury. Concussion requires proper treatment and plenty of rest to reduce the risk of developing chronic headaches, learning problems and poor memory.

A team of investigators from Toronto University wrote that children take up to three times as long to recover from second or third concussions, compared to those with a first concussion. Their findings were published in the journal Pedatrics (June 2013 issue).

What is concussion?

Concussion is also known as mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), mild head injury and minor head trauma. Some experts define concussion as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function, which can cause cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms. Concussion may also be defined as an injury to the brain generally caused by a jolt or blow to the head - in the majority of cases the individual does not lose consciousness.

In sports medicine the term concussion is commonly used, while in general medicine mild traumatic brain injury may be used as well. Lay people are more familiar with the term concussion.

Link: "What Is Concussion? What Is Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)?"

In this latest study, the researchers found that about half of all emergency department visits for concussion were sports-related; the 8- to 13-year-old group sustained 40% of these, which represents 58% of all concussions in this group. About one-quarter of all sports related concussion visits in the 8-13 group occurred during organized team sports.

The authors concluded:

The number of SRCs in young athletes is noteworthy. Additional research is required.

"Emergency Department Visits for Concussion in Young Child Athletes"

Lisa L. Bakhos, MD, Gregory R. Lockhart, MD, Richard Myers, BS, James G. Linakis, PhD, MD

PEDIATRICS Published online August 30th, 2010. DOI:10.1542/peds.2009-3101

Youth Concussion - The Vestibular Connection (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice