According to the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, falls and car accidents are responsible for most cases of minor traumatic brain injuries (“mTBI”). Notably, however, another leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (both minor and severe) is sports and recreational activities. In fact, although infrequent, the leading cause of death from sports-related injuries is traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). Furthermore, sports-and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21% of all TBIs among children and teens.
A traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal of function of the brain. While mTBIs may result in a concussion without loss of consciousness, more severe traumatic brain injuries can result in extended period unconsciousness, coma, and death. Unfortunately, throughout the beginning of the 21st century, the incidents of TBIs in minors have continued to increase.
According to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), from 2001 to 2009, the number of sports and recreation-related emergency room visits for TBI among persons aged 19 and younger increased 62%. In addition, the CDC reports that each year U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports and recreation related TBIs. Additionally, more recently, a study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital published on September 30, 2013, showed a 92% increase in pediatric visits to their hospital’s emergency rooms for sports-related traumatic brain injury from 2002 to 2011.
Overall, the activities associated with the most TBI-related emergency room visits include bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer.
As a result of the increase of TBIs amongst adolescents participating in sports and recreation, many states, schools, and sports leagues and organizations have created policies or action plans on concussions in youth and high school sports. In Texas, for instance, in 2011, the State legislature passed HB 2038 relating to the treatment, prevention, and oversight of concussions affecting public school students participating in interscholastic athletics. The law requires the following:
• The governing body of each school district and open-enrollment charter school with students enrolled who participate in sports appoint or approve a concussion oversight team;
• Parents or guardians of student athletes must sign a form that acknowledges receiving and reading written information that explains among other things, concussion prevention, symptoms, treatment, and guidelines for safely resuming participation in an athletic activity following a concussion; and
• Student athletes are to removed from practice or competition immediately if they are believed to have sustained a concussion during practice or competition, and the student may not be permitted to return until evaluated by a physician.
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