Get Back in the Game: The Truth About Concussion Risk in Sports
Basketball, baseball, football, hockey, and volleyball are just a few team sports that provide an invaluable set of life skills to children. Through these sports children learn teamwork, perseverance, leadership, good sportsmanship, and how to live healthy, active lifestyles among other important values.
Recently however, youth participation in team sports has been on the decline. In fact, over the last five years youth participation in team sports has declined by 5.9 percent according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
To Play or Not to Play
Several factors have contributed to this decline, with one of them being parents’ fear of their children suffering concussions. According to recently released results from a UPMC study conducted online in April by Harris Poll among 2,012 U.S. adults, 25 percent of parents say they do not let their kids play some contact sports because of fear of concussions.
While it is true that concussions can be sustained while playing contact sports, concussions can also occur off the field. Unfortunately, only 53 percent of adults know that not all concussions occur while playing a contact sport or activity, according to the survey.
In an effort to help educate parents and athletes on concussion, most schools and athletic associations are now requiring or strongly encouraging athletes to receive a neurocognitive test performed at the start of the season, such as the ImPACT® test. These tests help set a baseline for normal functioning brain activity that can then be used post-injury to compare an athlete’s neurocognitive state.
When an injury does occur, certified athletic trainers (ATCs) act as a first line of concussion evaluation on the sidelines. ATCs receive training to conduct basic sideline evaluations immediately after the athlete is injured, and based on that, they can make sure the injured athlete is sent to a trained specialist for care. ATCs and coaches also are able to instruct athletes on proper form while participating in sports to help minimize the chances of head injury.
When youth no longer participate in team sports, important social skills are lost such as learning teamwork, learning how to deal with pressure, and learning how to play by the rules. In addition, there are very important physical benefits gained from participating in team sports which help address the growing concern with rising childhood obesity rates.
Fortunately, all concussions are treatable when managed properly; however, only 31 percent of parents know this fact. Depending on the type of concussion, an individualized treatment plan can be developed in order to help the patient recover from all symptoms.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of UPMC between April 16-23, 2015 among 2,012 U.S. adults age 18 or older, 948 of whom are parents. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Deana Percassi, Harris Poll, (585) 214-7212.