child concussionResearchers indicate that 1.35 million times a year, a young athlete sustains a sports injury severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. In a new report released by Safe Kids Worldwide, “Game Changers” researchers studied the 14 most popular sports and concluded that concussions account for 163,000 of those ER visits. The report assesses data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to explore what types of injuries are sidelining young athletes.

The report also notes that there is a concussion-related ER visit every 3 minutes. According to the study, ER visits are not only comprised of high school athletes who have sustained concussions. Athletes aged 12 to 15 years make up 47% of the sports-related concussions seen in the ER. Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports that in 2011, the sport with the highest injuries and highest concussion rate was football. Wrestling and cheerleading were ranked at the second and third concussion rates, respectively.

The sport featuring the highest percentage of concussion is ice hockey, according to Vanderbilt. Experts at the organization’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, lead organization for Safe Kids Cumberland Valley, also weighed in on vital strategies intended to prevent sport-related injuries.

Prompt recognition and response to concussions in order to minimize severity and prolonged impairment is key, Alex Diamond, DO, assistant professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation and pediatrics emphasizes, “This is where we really see the value of education as we rely heavily on those in the community trenches such as parents and coaches to have a high index of suspicion and sit their athlete out if there is any concern for concussion,” Diamond says.

A news release from Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports that Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Cumberland Valley are requesting community members, coaches, parents, sports leagues, and athletes to implement the following strategies to combat these findings. They include concussion education, teaching athlete injury prevention skills such as warm-up exercise and stretches, smart hydration habits, encouraging athletes to speak up about injuries, and supporting coaches in injury prevention decisions.

Diamond adds that, “it is vital to empower individuals in the community to help bring about a safer sporting environment and culture for their young athletes, but also for us to provide them with the tools they need to be able to make that difference.”

Vanderbilt states that its Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) and Safe Kids Cumberland Valley received a sports safety grant from Safe Kids for the last years to assist in promoting youth sports prevention efforts.

Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center