Boys SoccerThe Underlying Problem
It's believed a concussion can only occur from a substantial blow or a dramatic hit to the head, or that someone must be knocked-out or lose consciousness. In these instances, concussion injuries are quite apparent to all from the sidelines and stands. They are not typically questioned if an athletes sustains such a blatant injury. But the seriousness of concussions goes much deeper.
  • Any level or grade of concussion, even those considered minor, can leave an athlete vulnerable to serious and long-standing effects, even catastrophic injury or death if a concussion remains unrecognized or unreported.  If such an athlete continues to play without regard for the seriousnes of a concussion, he/she risks yet another more serious concussion or catastrophic injury.
  • There remains disparity in what some directly involved in playing sports – athletes, parents, and coaches consider a concussion, when compared to the opinions of professionals involved in sports medicine, athletic health care, and sports concussion research. 
  • Another prevalent danger is that head trauma can result from repeated minor blows to the head over time (hours, days, weeks) without an identifiable concussion event.  The accumulative affects of head blows are much less apparent to the untrained and can be just as perilous, even though they lack a dramatic hit or blow to the head. One-third of concussions occur where there is no identifiable hit/blow to the head.
  • Up to 10% of concussed athletes will continue having lingering symptoms that require prolonged recovery and specialized medical care. Therefore, athletes suffering from concussions can not be expected to recover all the same. Individuals directly involved in playing sports – athletes, parents, and coaches have occasionally been reluctant to completely remove an athlete from competition while the athlete has symptoms of a concussion, or may find it difficult to accept that it can take more than a week or two for an athlete to recovery from a concussion.

  • Until 2007, catastrophic head injuries in football remained in single-digits for many years, averaging approximately 7 per year.  Since then, a dramatic increase in catastrophic concussion injuries have been reported. Following the 2011 high school football season, 13 catastrophic concussion injuries were reported, nearly double the number of such injuries typically reported annually not long ago.  The question remains as to why such a dramatic increase in a relatively short period of time.

A concussion study appearing in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (McCrea, et al 2004) involving 1,532 high school football players in Wisconsin revealed that 47% of players who sustained a concussion continued to play without reporting their injuries to anyone. The study listed the athletes' primary reasons for not reporting their concussion symptoms:
 
WI Chart

Efforts to enhance recognition and reporting of sports-related concussions and allow proper return to play have resulted in every state to enacting “concussion laws”.  High-profile U.S. Congressional hearings held in late 2009 and early 2010 have implicated what some consider an epidemic of concussions in youth sports, while others feel the prevelent numbers are merely due to the change to a more conseravtive concussion injury definition.

Locally, Nebraska has had serious and catastrophic head injuries in recent years.  While most all are related to football, serious concussion injury can occur in any sport.

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