By Mario McKellop
Concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) are one of the most common types of sports-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 4 million sports or recreational activity-related concussions are reported in the United States ever year. Additionally, it’s been found that sports and recreational activities are responsible for 21 percent of MTBI among child athletes. The reason concussions have become prevalent in recent years is that their nature isn’t commonly understood.
Common Causes of Concussions
Concussions are a disruption of the brain’s normal processes as the result of a head injury. They are most commonly caused by falls, but they are also often the result of a contact sports-related collision. It should be noted that an athlete can suffer a concussion as the result of a blow to the head even if they don’t lose consciousness. It should also be noted that due to increasing participation in youth sports, children under the age of 14 account for 54 percent of sports and recreational activity-related concussions. Specifically, a study conducted by Hasbro Children’s Hospital found that ice hockey, football and soccer are the sports that cause the greatest number of concussions.
Since concussions of the leading cause of sports-related deaths, it’s important for athletes and the parents of athletes to know the symptoms of a concussion. The most commonly reported symptom are headaches, closely followed by dizziness. Other common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, an aversion to light or noise, mood changes, slurred speech, ringing ears, memory problems, and a general state of confusion.
As there is no cure for MTBI, it’s important that athletes of all ages take steps to prevent them. First off, it’s important to wear the proper athletic gear when engaging in athletic activity. That means always wearing a helmet during contact sports practice, especially since 60 percent of sports-related injuries occurred during practice. It’s also important to make sure a helmet’s chinstrap is closed and properly secured during any athletic activity. Wearing an ill-fitting helmet greatly reduces its ability to properly protect your head.
The CDC also stresses how important sportsmanship is to concussion prevention as overly aggressive play can increase the likelihood of athletes injuring themselves or others. And as even mild dehydration can result in the reduction of the amount of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, it’s very important for athletes to drink plenty of water. This is because having a healthy amount of cerebrospinal fluid can reduce athlete’s risk factor for getting a concussion.
Although a concussion can only be properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified medical professional, MTBI recovery requires a deal of rest. That means abstaining from rigorous physical activities like sports, as well as tasks that call for a great deal of focus and concentration. Doing things as innocuous as playing video games, reading and watching TV can exacerbate the symptoms of a concussion. It’s also a good idea to take on a temporarily reduced school or workload. And as proper hydration is crucial to the healing process, athletes diagnosed with a concussion should consume lots of water and avoid heavily caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks.
To learn more about concussions, check out to the latest episode of Inside Sports Medicine with Dr. Jeff Pierce. If you or your child have suffered a concussion, the experts at the Michigan Sports & Spine Center can help resolve your pain.