According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, occur each year. Most concussions go undiagnosed and untreated, which increases the risk of serious long-term effects in athletes. In light of the media’s recent attention on the NFL and NHL players’ lawsuits, parents might understandably be concerned for the safety of their children. Parents can protect their children by recognizing the signs of a concussion and following a few helpful tips.
But as researchers and policy makers know, concussions aren’t only a danger in football—in fact, football isn’t even the sport in which they present the greatest risk, at least in terms of frequency.
Football may have the highest number of concussions by sport because of the roster size, but many other sports see higher occurrence rates per athletic exposure. According to a National Academy of Sciences report released last month, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, ice hockey, and basketball have all proved about as dangerous or more so than football in recent years.
After a concussion, women tend to have worse symptoms than men. That’s the case even when athletes were injured playing the same sport, according to a new study of young soccer players. Some recent studies have found gender differences in
memory and other symptoms after concussions, with women generally doing worse.
With attention on concussions largely focused on professional football and men’s sports, these brain injuries may get overlooked in women’s sports.
Concussion experts agree that while football still sees the most concussions, every sport involving contact needs be aware of the issue. As Dr. Stacy Suskauer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore put it: “there really isn’t a sport that is concussion-proof.”
According to statistics kept by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007, girls’ soccer players reported 29,167 concussions, second only to football players.And, a study published in the Jan. 2011 edition of theJournal of Athletic Training said female athletes experience more physical long-term symptoms than male athletes. Researchers collected data from 100 high schools and found that two years after a reported concussion, female athletes reported more drowsiness and sensitivity to noise than male athletes.
While pro football has begun to confront the consequences of concussions, a new report is putting the spotlight on younger athletes and the risk they face from repeated head injuries. Jeffrey Brown talks to Dr. Robert Graham of The George Washington University, former NFL player Fred McCrary and athletic trainer Tamara McLeod.
Following a concussion, it is common for children and adolescents to experience difficulties in the school setting. Cognitive difficulties, such as learning new tasks or remembering previously learned material, may pose challenges in the classroom. This report serves to provide a better understanding of possible factors that may contribute to difficulties in a school environment following a concussion and serves as a framework for the medical home, the educational home, and the family home to guide the student to a successful and safe return to learning.
Briana Scurry couldn’t be sure if it was the painkillers or the fact that surgeons had just plucked pea-size balls of damaged tissue from the back of her head. But when the two-time Olympic goalkeeper and Women’s World Cup champion awoke at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on Oct. 18, the headache that had hijacked her life for the past 3-1/2 years was gone.
Since an April 2010 game, when an overeager forward slammed into Scurry, that headache chased her from one defeat to another: forcing her to quietly retire from soccer, tripping her up during a short-lived gig with ESPN and finally pushing her into depression. Her roommate would come home from work and find Scurry listless on the couch, where she’d been all afternoon.