In a time when good news is a little bit harder to come by, there’s this – head injuries in youth sports are on the decline.
According to research published in the July 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, head injuries in youth contact sports have been falling off after rising over the last two decades. Data collected between 2001 and 2018 found that there were roughly 3.9 million emergency room visits for TBIs related to sports and recreational activities involving children and teens. Contact sports accounted for 41 percent of those injuries, and the category accounted for the steepest growth and sharpest subsequent decline in regards to total head injuries over the course of the study.
Why The Decline?
Researchers say that a number of factors are fueling this decline in head injuries. One factor is that fewer kids are playing tackle football than years ago, but it’s not just a decline in total number of kids playing sports that are driving this drop in head injuries. For example, some of the other factors include:
- New implementation of contact limitations
- Improvements in the coaching of tackling techniques
- Heading restrictions in soccer
- Better understanding of proper brain care at the initial injury outset
The decline is especially encouraging considering all that we know about concussions in today’s day and age. Parents, coaches and the medical community are hyper aware of the dangers of head injuries and we’ve implemented care guidelines to remove players from contact activities at the first sign of a potential injury. If anything, we could have easily suspected that the number of concussions would have stayed similar or even continued to trend upwards because more children were having their head injuries professionally treated because we’re better at managing and reporting concussions than we were even a decade ago.
Another promising sign is that concussions declined among both sexes, suggesting that the safety protocols aren’t unique to football. While the decline may be driven by some football-related factors, it’s clear that the majority of sports are getting safer for our children, and this is encouraging as participation trends are failing to match those of the past.
As youth sports start back up in Minnesota, make sure you’re aware of the signs of a concussion and how to best manage head injuries if your son or daughter injures their head during contact sports or another activity. If they are suffering from problems like confusion, sensitivity to light, blurred vision or headaches, have them visit a neurospecialist’s office. For more information, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.