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The Most Frequently Reported Injury Among Youth Athletes? Concussions

10 Jul, 2019

By: Michael Popke

While a recent report claimed that the majority of sudden deaths among young athletes ages 6 to 17 in the United States between 2007 and 2015 were cardiac-related and occurred during practice within organized middle school sports, a new study claims that concussions are the most frequent injury young athletes suffer.

The study, which appeared in the open access science journal PLOS ONE, focused on children 5 to 11 years old who play recreational football, soccer and baseball/softball.

According to a news release from the University of South Florida, Karen Liller, professor of community and family health at USF’s College of Public Health followed more than 1,500 athletes in Hillsborough County, Fla., for two years. Her team collected baseline neurocognitive data using ImPACT Pediatric, the only FDA-approved concussion assessment tool for young athletes in the study’s age group. The digital program asks athletes a number of questions pertaining to word memory, sequencing/attention, visual memory and reaction time. It was administered prior to practices and games to help prevent fatigue from impacting test performance.

Certified athletic trainers were hired to collect injury data using High School Reporting Information Online (RIO), an internet-based injury surveillance system. During the two-year study, 26 athletes were injured; 12 were diagnosed with a concussion. Of those concussions, ten occurred during boys’ and girls’ soccer, the remainder happened during recreational softball games.

“To date, research on sports injuries has largely been focused on high school and collegiate athletes,” Liller said. “For child athletes, many sports/recreational activities are not organized for reporting injuries, so almost no data for this group have been collected.”

In addition to noting specific injuries, the RIO records how frequently each athlete participates in their sport, what they were doing when they got hurt, and exactly how the injury happened. Researchers found the leading mechanisms of injury were caused by colliding with another athlete, contact with a playing apparatus and contact with playing surfaces. While none of the injuries required surgery, they did result in lost playing time, according to the study.

  • Has the National Hockey League removed itself from the concussion discussion by consistently denying that hockey should take any responsibility for the long-term brain damage sustained by its players? That’s the question The New York Times posed during the Stanley Cup Finals after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in a state of the league address before Game 1, did not use the words “concussion,” “brain,” “safety” or “CTE.” The paper noted that in 2018, the NHL settled a lawsuit with hundreds of retired players who claimed the league hid the dangers of hits to the head from them. The $19 million deal paled in comparison to the $1 billion settlement the National Football League made with its former players five years earlier. “There’s been a lot going on in the last eight years, with a lot of hockey players that have died and a lot of others who are suffering,” Joanne Boogaard, mother of Derek Boogaard, an NHL standout who died in 2011 at age 28 of an accidental overdose of painkillers and alcohol and was posthumously diagnosed with CTE, told The Times. “I don’t want people to forget him. And I don’t want people to think it’s over, that it’s all better. It’s not.”
  •  A common drug taken to fight cholesterol also might help lower the risk of dementia in people who have suffered concussions. A new study in JAMA Neurology indicates that taking a statin reduced the risk of dementia by 13 percent in older adults who had been diagnosed with a concussion between 1993 and 2013. The observational study, co-authored by Donald Redelmeier of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, analyzed nearly 30,000 people over the age of 65. According to AthleticBusiness.com, “the benefits of statins may be slight, but the research shows they may help reduce brain inflammation after a concussion.”
  • A portable test to help people suspected of having concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries hasreceived a boost from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. BRAINBox Solutions, a molecular diagnostics innovator dedicated to the field of brain injury that works extensively with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, has been granted the FDA’s Breakthrough Device Designation to speed development of a multi-modality product that includes a blood-based test to aid in prognosis and diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury. Virginia Tech, in cooperation with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and its clinical partner Carilion Clinic, will serve as one of the national anchor research and clinical sites to validate the test, which combines injury-related blood-protein biomarkers with computerized neurological assessments at the point of care. For more information, click here.
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