Participation in many sports increases the chances of head and brain injuries. 300,000 new mild to moderate brain injuries results from sports injuries each year, representing almost 20% of total traumatic brain injuries nationally.
Some Basic Facts:
» 1 in 10 sports head injuries are severe enough to result in hospitalization.
» Brain injuries happen in clusters. Individuals who have had 1 head injury are 2 –4 times more likely to have another.
» 20% of high school and 40% of college football players will have a head injury during their play career.
» Equestrian sports have the highest rates of brain injury, even compared against boxing, football, rugby and martial arts.
» Repeated head trauma is cumulative in its effect and repeated head injury during development and adulthood is associated with later dementia.
Neuropsychological assessment is strongly recommended following even a mild head injury. The concussions that disable are almost always more symptomatic at 24 hours, than at the 2-4 hour time frame when injured persons are evaluated in the emergency room. Brain injury symptoms escalate over the first 24 hours, because brain injury involves a cascade of events.
Return to play decisions should be based on medical data and neuropsychological test results. Following even mild and transient disorientation, the player needs to demonstrate no effects of the injury before a return to play in contact sports should be granted. In the absence of clear and overwhelming evidence that the injury is not significant, coach must have the player sit out the remainder of the game until the player is medically cleared.
For more information on sports related head injuries visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site on sports concussion at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/sports/index.html.
For a listing of local resources and support groups, visit the Brain Injury Association of Washington http://www.braininjurywa.org/ or call Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center at 877-824-1766.