Reports of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among adults, particularly in professional sports, are often in the news. But what about TBIs among children and youth? In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in emergency departments (EDs) for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI. From 2001 to 2012, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, more than doubled among children (age 19 or younger).
Definition: Sporting activities can improve both the physical and mental health of children, teaching them to work with other children and improving their coordination and confidence. Safety precautions and equipment can be instrumental in preventing or lessening injuries from sporting activities. The environment in which sports are played also has an impact on injury risks. Organized sports take place at schools, public parks, or recreation centers. More casual sports activities take place in backyards, streets, or neighborhood courts.
Magnitude of the Problem: According to Safe Kids:
- Each year, over 38 million children and adolescents participate in some sports in the U.S.
- Over 3.5 million children under the age of fifteen receive medical treatment due to sports injuries.
- 62% of injuries from organized sports occur during practice, not games. According to a national survey, 27% of parents don’t always take the same safety precautions during practice as in games.
- The most common cause of sports-related death is traumatic brain injury; sports and recreation account for one out of five TBIs in children.
- Sprains (usually ankle) are the most common sports-related injury in children.
Prevention: The environment children play in (e.g., heat, protective ground surface, properly maintained equipment); proper safety equipment (e.g., helmets, padding); supervision; physical check-ups; and regular hydration are just a few of the factors that should be considered to prevent injuries to children while they are playing sports. In addition, assuring that children are in age- and ability-appropriate activities can help prevent stress-related mental health issues.
In 2015, injuries caused 13,363 deaths in U.S. children and adolescents aged 0-19. In addition, injuries were responsible for 200,225 hospitalizations and almost 7.7 million emergency department (ED) visits in this population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], WISQARS, 2017). One important way to understand the burden of childhood injuries is by looking at the costs of those injuries.
The second session of the webinar series “Advancing Injury Prevention through Policy” focused on state youth concussion laws. "Implementation of State Youth Concussion Laws: Perspectives from the Frontlines” first provided an update on which states have passed youth concussion laws, as well as preliminary results of an interview survey with state officials and organizational leaders charged with implementation of these laws in their own states.