The verdict is in: Sports-related concussions are rapidly increasing at all levels of competition, but its youth athletes who are feeling the bulk of the impact.
According to a comprehensive study published in 2016 by Alan Zhang in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, from 2007 to 2014 concussion incidence rose by 60% across all age groups from with the highest spikes observed in children ages 10-14 (143% increase) and 15-19 (87% increase). While Zhang and many other researchers in the field are quick to acknowledge that some of this uptick is attributable to increased awareness and more diligent reporting of concussion-related incidents, they still believe these findings are a major cause for concern for youth athletes:
“This trend is alarming [however], and the youth population should definitely be prioritized for ongoing work in concussion diagnosis, education, treatment and prevention,” said Zhang upon the release of his findings.
And though many believe the risk is limited to football and hockey, recent studies confirm that the impact spreads far beyond the gridiron or ice rink. In fact, most young athletes – no matter the sport – are at risk of sustaining a concussion anytime they engage in sports activities, whether it is a casual practice or scrimmage, or a hyper-competitive championship game.
Many youth sports leagues are already doing their part by institutionalizing return-to-play protocol; however, as a parent, coach, physician or league/tournament administrator, it is critical to know and implement the proper concussion treatment and management procedures. As a baseline reference, the CDC offers excellent general concussion return-to-play guidelines (see image below):
Also, note that many states regulate return-to-play protocol beyond CDC recommendations, so be sure to check with Player’s Health concussion laws by state tool. State regulations can be summed up with the following requirements:
- Relevant information related to the injury must be documented, including, date, time, location, nature of the collision and primary symptoms experienced after contact.
- Documented information must be shared with the appropriate parties, including the athlete’s legal guardians, doctor, coach, and critical league or tournament administrators.
- The athlete’s recovery must be continuously monitored throughout the process to improve his or her chances of getting cleared by a doctor to resume play. Athletes do not return until doctor’s clearance is achieved.
For those players, parents, coaches, physicians and league administrators looking to learn more, visit the CDC’s website for an overview of sports concussion policies and laws, including a white paper on implementing return-to-play protocol.
And when it’s time for action, look no further than Player’s Health – through its cutting-edge technology solutions, Player’s Health can help players, parents, coaches, physicians and league administrators in the documentation, reporting and monitoring stages of concussion management. To learn more, visit Player’s Health website and request a demo to understand how Player’s Health can prepare and equip your organization with the tools needed to manage the safety and ongoing injury care for youth athletes.