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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs