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National Emergency Room Surveillance Reveals Concussions Tripled among Teens

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With Emergency Room visit s for teenagers tripling over a 10 year period, Sports Medicine researchers are concerned that "bigger, stronger and faster" may not be good for the health of America’s young athletes. An October 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics tracked concussions among athletes in organized youth sports between 1997 and 2007, using a national surveillance network of hospital emergency rooms.

Researchers from Brown University found that the pace of ER visits for concussions had nearly doubled among 8- to 13-year-olds, and more than tripled among players 14 through 19. The lead researcher, Dr. Lisa Bakhos, said she’s not sure if the increases reflect a real increase in the incidence of injury rather than a greater awareness of the danger of the brain injury among parents and coaches according to the news report in the Washington Examiner. Many sports-medicine doctors report that up to 75 percent of the injuries they treat in those under 18 result from overuse and overtraining.

For concussions, there’s growing evidence that major knockout blows may not be the only type of traumatic brain injury ("TBI"). Several recent studies suggest that multiple minor blows to the forehead, like those experienced by football linemen, can also traumatize key learning and memory regions of the brain, particularly in younger brains. Adequate head protection, proper coaching in safe sport techniques and prompt medical attention after an athletic head injury can all help prevent and lessen the likelihood of permanent brain trauma and disability.