Study indicates numerous sports carry concussion risks

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A new study from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, indicates football is not the only sport where teens risk getting a concussion. The study found that between 2008 and 2010, for every 10,000 times high school athletes practiced or competed in a sport, 2.5 athletes suffered a concussion.

As expected, football players were the most likely to suffer brain injuries. Forty-seven percent of concussions happened in football. However, ice hockey, lacrosse, boys’ wrestling, and girls’ soccer and basketball also carry a high risk of suffering a concussion.

Girls’ soccer accounted for slightly over 8 percent of all concussions, and nearly six percent of the injuries occurred in girls who play basketball. The study found girls who play “gender-comparable” sports like soccer and basketball have a 70 percent higher concussion rate than boys.

Researchers are not sure why the disparity exists, but theorize it may be because girls have weaker necks. Concussions occur when athletes hit their heads hard enough to jolt the brain inside the skull. Studies are trying to determine if a stronger neck offers greater protection.

Like girls who play basketball, boys who wrestle accounted for nearly six percent of concussions.

Boys’ ice hockey had mixed results. It was responsible for a lower percentage of the overall total number of concussions. However, nearly one in four injuries to hockey players were brain injuries.

The lead researcher at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says the benefits of playing sports are much greater than the risk of developing a concussion. However, parents, coaches and athletes should not disregard the risk and should know the signs of a concussion, which include headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and fatigue.

Once a child has been diagnosed with having a concussion, the American Academy of Pediatrics says a doctor should check the child before he or she returns to the game. Athletes who suffer a second head injury before the first one has healed run the risk of permanent brain damage or even death.

Source: Fox News, “Teens’ concussion risk not limited to football,” Reuters, Feb. 17, 2012