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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid