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Study Finds Many Sports-Related Concussions Go Untreated

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Lilly Lentz1 year ago

According to ABC News, a new study has been published that suggests a significant number of children may be going untreated for sports-related concussions.

Details of the Untreated Concussions Study

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and the University of Colorado have found that between 1.1 and 1.9 million children may suffer a sports-and recreation-related concussion (SRRC) each year.

The researchers analyzed three national databases that record injury information reported to multiple healthcare settings: emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient medical providers, and certified high school athletic trainers. The researchers estimated that between 511,590 and 1,240,972 sports- and recreation-related concussions went untreated in children under the age of 18 every year. This information helped the researchers come to their findings that were published in the medical journal, Pediatrics.

The importance of this study emerges as the long-term effects on the brain concussions may present have recently gained a heightened level of attention. Concussions themselves are a mild form of traumatic brain injury and can be the result of any direct blow to the head. Concussions can also be caused by any impact on the body that may shake the brain inside of the skull.

Dr. Flanagan, chair of the Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, is adamant in that, “the most important aspect with regards to concussion is recognizing it”.

With that being said, it is important to be aware of all of the symptoms, as a loss of consciousness is not always presented with a concussion. The symptoms that may occur include feeling dazed or confused, blurred vision, or amnesia at the time the injury occurred. Symptoms that may present themselves later on include difficulty paying attention, irritability, and lethargy. Some symptoms require immediate evaluation by a healthcare provider, with those being nausea, vomiting, worsening of headache, trouble staying awake, and prolonged symptoms that were immediately presented at the time of the trauma.  

Dr. Alex Diamond, a pediatric sports medicine specialist and director of the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports at Vanderbilt, describes the significance of this study in terms of, “the number of concussions that we’ve all been reporting is probably less than what it is in reality. There is an entire vulnerable population of kids that we’re missing.” This meaning, high school athletes have the resources for identifying the symptoms of a concussion, while many other children may suffer with concussions from free play or recreational sports. To address this issue, Diamond suggests better education concerning concussions and recognizing their symptoms for this particular population of people.

Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths
  • In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States. 
  • Over the past decade (2001–2010), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 70%, hospitalization rates only increased by 11% and death rates decreased by 7%
  • In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. EDs for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI
  • From 2006–2010, falls were the leading cause of TBI, accounting for 40% of all TBIs in the United States that resulted in an ED visit, hospitalization, or death.
  • Falls disproportionately affect the youngest and oldest age groups with more than half (55%) of TBIs among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls and more than two-thirds (81%) of TBIs in adults aged 65 and older are caused by falls.
  • Unintentional blunt trauma (e.g., being hit by an object) was the second leading cause of TBI, accounting for about 15% of TBIs in the United States for 2006–2010.


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