CDC report says contact sports are the leading cause of concussions in teens
Nearly 2 million American children and teenagers were treated for traumatic brain injuries and concussions in emergency rooms between 2010 and 2016, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. That averages to 283,000 every year.
Sports and recreational activities were the leading causes for childhood brain injuries, with football, bicycling, basketball, playground activities, and soccer being the leading causes for TBI-related emergency room visits.
The most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that childhood traumatic brain injury rates have largely leveled off since 2012, although sports continue to drive hundreds of thousands of brain injuries every year.
Notably, the report shows that boys are being treated for concussions twice as often as girls. TBI rates also increased with age, with children between 10 and 17 being most likely to experience a concussion.
According to the authors, both of these findings are likely related to boys and older children being more likely to participate in contact sports compared to girls or younger children.
This is supported by the finding that contact sports like football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling led to twice as many TBI-related emergency room visits compared to non-contact sports. Compared to recreational activities like playing on a playground, contact sports were more than four times as likely to result in a brain injury.
However, the report notes that playground activities did contribute to a significant proportion of TBI-related emergency room visits in children under 9.
With these findings in mind, the report’s authors suggest a number of preventative measures parents and children can take to prevent brain injuries in children.
“Limiting player-to-player contact and rule changes that reduce risk for collisions are critical to preventing TBI in contact and limited-contact sports,” the authors wrote.
When an injury does occur, the authors stress it the importance of a fast diagnosis and treatment plan.