Are concussions causing leg injuries in young athletes?
There are many reasons it can be dangerous to return to sports or other physical activities too soon after a concussion, one of the most significant being the increased risk of more severe brain injuries. However, a new study indicates athletes may be vulnerable to other forms of injury you might not expect after a concussion.
In a report presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Dr. Alison Brooks, MD, MPH told fellow experts that high school athletes may be more at risk for lower extremity injuries following brain injuries.
Dr. Brooks explained past research had already found similarly high risks for collegiate and professional athletes, but little research had been done on this issue in adolescents or teens.
“This prospective study of high school soccer players is consistent with research in older athletic populations and suggests risk of lower extremity injury is increased after return to play from concussion,” Dr. Brooks said.
Dr. Brooks worked with a team of colleagues to evaluate a large number of both male and female high school soccer players from more than 50 schools across the nation. The research groups studied the young athletes over an entire year, including conducting pre-season baseline testing and monitoring by licensed athletic trainers.
Based on the data collected, athletes reporting previous concussions or a brain injury during the year-long study faced an 85% higher risk of leg injuries during the season compared to athletes without a history of concussions.
While it is still uncertain exactly what causes this heightened risk, the researchers suggest that adolescent athletes may suffer neuromuscular or neurocognitive issues that may increase their risk of injury but go unnoticed by current diagnostic methods.
“This study provides further evidence that there may be ongoing sub-clinical deficits after concussion that are currently difficult to detect but increase an athlete’s likelihood of sustaining a subsequent injury,” Dr.