News / USA

Concussions Impact US Teen Athletes

Brain injuries represent 10 percent of all high school athletic injuries

Most traumatic brain injuries occur while playing American football, but they can also happen in just about any other contact sport including soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and wrestling.
Most traumatic brain injuries occur while playing American football, but they can also happen in just about any other contact sport including soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and wrestling.

Multimedia

Audio

There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year.

A national study by a major pediatric research center of young athletes 15-to-24 years old reveals that sports are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury to the brain.

And concussions represent 10 percent of all high school athletic injuries.

Alarming statistics

Every year, more than 60,000 U.S. high school athletes sustain a concussion, a type of brain injury that can be caused by a blow to the head or even the upper body. While most of them occur during a game or practice of American football, concussions can also happen in just about any other contact sport. This includes soccer, lacrosse, baseball and even wrestling.

Dane Harlowe, 17, is an award-winning athlete at Annandale High School in the state of Virginia. He has been wrestling since he was six years old.

This past February, Dane sustained a concussion when his opponent head butted him during a regular match almost immediately after the start of the match. The impact left him dazed.

"I kind of backed up a little bit and I told the ref I needed a time out," he says.

Dane Harlowe (in red & white) wrestling in the 125 lbs (56.7 kilos) Virginia AAA State Championship final on February 19, 2011.
Dane Harlowe (in red & white) wrestling in the 125 lbs (56.7 kilos) Virginia AAA State Championship final on February 19, 2011.

Dane’s father Dennis Harlowe, a former wrestler himself, was at the match. He knew something was wrong when he saw his son laying face down on the mat with his arms by his side while his opponent was working him.

"I’m looking and wondering ‘Why is this continuing, obviously something is wrong,’ and when Coach Sholders said, ‘There’s obviously something wrong, stop the match,’The ref blew the whistle and stopped it and it actually turned out to be the end of the match."

Importance of athletic trainers

Luckily for Dane, Annandale High School employs a certified athletic trainer. Alison Lane quickly evaluated Dane for signs of concussion, which can include confusion or fogginess, inability to think straight, a headache, nausea, dizziness and feeling off balance.

After testing the young wrestler, she determined that he did indeed have a concussion.

Lane says she’s very pleased with how her high school handles the prevention and treatment of injuries.

"We do a pre-screening where we do a baseline cognitive test where we have the athletes sit down and take a 20-minute test to see how they think cognitively when they’re healthy, so that when they do get injured and they do sustain a concussion, we can then go back and compare it. That gives us some objective data to use when we’re evaluating and deciding whether an athlete is ready to go back to play."

Rest is best

Dane was instructed to take time off from his sport and his studies to give his brain a chance to recover. He was tested again a short while later to make sure he was healed.

"I’d go down to the training room every day after school and they’d make me ride the bike and do pushups and sit ups and jumping jacks just to see if any athletic activities would give me a headache or make me dizzy or something. And then they would make me take the on-line concussion test, and I did that for two and a half weeks," he says.

Professional athletes who get concussions should also take time off, but many do not, preferring to get right back in the game. The repeated head trauma they suffer can lead to a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. Symptoms - which may take years to appear - can include memory loss, aggression, confusion, erratic behavior and depression…and can lead to substance abuse and suicide.

Media attention has focused on a number of former professional football players who developed CTE - Dave Duerson, who played for the Chicago Bears for 11 seasons, shot himself to death in February. Seven years after retiring from his National Football League (NFL) career, Shane Dronett took his own life at the age of 38.

There are an estimated 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year.
There are an estimated 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year.

Raising awareness

But concussion-related injuries at the high school level have not attracted as much interest. In fact, only 42 percent of high schools have access to certified athletic trainers who can evaluate an athlete immediately after an incident.

And that’s a problem, says certified athletic trainer Marjorie Albohm, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). "I call this truly the neglected population. We provide the best medical care for our elite highest-level athletes, internationally, and forget those millions of kids that are out there, unsupervised medically."

Albohm says coaches and parents need to be less demanding of young athletes, schedule less competitive play and be extra vigilant about injury symptoms.

Her organization is working with the National Football League to try to raise public awareness about the dangers of concussion and encourage new safety laws.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs