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    Concussions on the Rise for Young Athletes

    Study Shows Many Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur Among Bicycle Riders and Football Players
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Oct. 6, 2011 -- There was about a 60% increase in the estimated number of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) seen among young athletes during the past decade, according to the CDC.

    In 2001, there were an estimated 153,375 traumatic brain injuries among people from birth to age 19. This number rose to 248,418 in 2009.

    Many of these injuries occurred among bicyclers, football players, and children in playgrounds. Basketball and soccer players are also at risk for TBI, according to a new report in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    Exactly why we are seeing this uptick is not known, but "I believe this is, at least, in part due to increased awareness," says study researcher Julie Gilchrist, MD. She is a pediatrician with the CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta.

    "We are hoping that awareness has gotten up to the point that parents, teachers, and coaches recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion and make sure that children are evaluated," she says.

    These may include:

    • Confusion
    • Loss of consciousness (even a brief one)
    • Memory problems
    • Headache
    • Pressure in the head
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Balance problems or dizziness
    • Double or blurry vision
    • Sensitivity to light or noise
    • Inattentiveness

    These don't necessarily occur right after a game or fall either, she says. "It takes time for symptoms to develop. So if they are showing signs on Monday it may be because of something that happened at Friday's football game."

    In the new report, some differences in injury rates were seen based on a child's age and gender. About 71% of emergency room visits for sport- or recreation-related TBIs occurred in boys; 70.5% of all these visits were for children and young adults aged 10-19. Children from birth to age 9 were more likely to sustain head injuries while bicycle riding or during playground activities.

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