4 Important Facts About Concussion in Children Playing Sports

May 4, 2019 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Concussions can be serious for anyone.

Concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by direct or indirect force to the head. Terms concussion and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are frequently used interchangeably. It is a complex injury that may have extensive consequences for a  patient, his/her close ones, and society as a whole, too.

Emergency departments report more than 1 million visits annually for traumatic brain injuries, most of which are concussions. However, this is likely underreported because many persons do not seek medical care for head injuries. The incidence of sports-related concussions is estimated to be 1.6 to 3.8 million annually.

Concussion, Sports and Kids

An estimated 1.1 million to 1.9 million U.S. children and teens are treated for a recreational or sport-related concussion every year, but then again the true number of childhood and adolescence concussions probably remains underreported (just like in the case of adult concussions), according to a report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The research shows that sport-related concussion remains common in nearly all sports at all levels, with boys’ tackle football and girls’ soccer reporting the most incidents, followed by other high-contact sports.

Here are 5 important facts we believe you should know about sports-related concussion in children:

1. Children are at higher risk for concussion

Children have significant physical and developmental differences that place them at higher risk of concussion compared to adults.

These include:

  • Poorly developed neck muscles
  • Increased head to neck ratio
  • Brain cells and pathways still developing This results in a greater injury to the child’s brain for the same impact force.

The reason behind the sex differences in concussion rates remains unclear, although some have theorized that female athletes have weaker neck musculature or that estrogen may play a role

2. Children are not treated for a concussion the same way adults are

It is recommended that children (5-17 years) should be managed more conservatively than adults because

  • Their brains are still developing
  • Children are more easily concussed than adults
  • Children experience more symptoms and take longer to recover.

According to article in British Journal of Sports Medicine, the adoption of a conservative adult management strategy with a thorough assessment of symptom resolution followed by “return to baseline” cognitive function remains the most appropriate management strategy for children and adolescents.

3. Headache is not a necessary symptom of a concussion

After an incident involving a head injury in sports, many children keep playing because both them and coaches or parents believe that if there is no headache, there is no concussion either. Headache is not a necessary symptom of a concussion.

There are several concussion symptom demonstrations that don’t inevitably involve headaches but can be just as devastating. Such symptoms can be sensitivity to light, lethargy, reduced school performance, faintness, sleep disturbance, and nausea.

4. If you suspect a concussion, there are setting choices

Many people believe that after sustaining a concussion, they should take their children to the emergency room. It is, in fact, one of the choices.

Another option is making an appointment with your child’s primary care doctor, who is familiar with the patient’s medical history. A concussion specialist is an excellent choice, as well. Who better to examine and treat your child than the doctor most experienced in this kind of injury?

Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic – Further Information 

If you want to find out more about our services, or schedule an appointment at our Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic,  please call (919) 863-6996.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.