It’s not just football: Concussions are happening all over sports
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
With participation in high school and youth sports at an all-time high, injuries are certain to rise as well. Among the more notable injuries are concussions, which affect a wide spectrum of student-athletes in addition to professionals.
While football-related concussions draw many of the headlines, head injuries also happen frequently in many other sports.
In fact, the Women's Sports Safety Initiative reported recently that concussions more often afflict women and girls who play sports than their male counterparts. The organization, which focuses on sports-related injuries and player safety, particularly among female athletes, also showed that women and girls take longer to recover from concussions, and they suffer more intense symptoms than male athletes.
In its most recent high school sports participation study — for the 2014-15 academic year — the National Federation of State High School Associations reported that fewer than 2,000 females played football compared with more than 1.1 million males playing the sport in high school. Still, females are suffering from concussions with growing numbers, more than double the rate of males in similar sports, according to an 11-year study.
A study conducted by Ohio State University researchers and reported in the American Journal of Sports Medicine detailed that concussion rates among all high school athletes over a seven-year period more than doubled. That research included football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball.
Bill Moreau of the U.S. Olympic Committee told The New York Times that he thinks up to 50 percent of synchronized swimmers under his supervision have been concussed. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that 66 percent of catastrophic injuries suffered by high school female athletes in a 25-year period occurred in cheerleading.
Boys in sports other than football are also suffering concussions, which can lead to long-term consequences such as a decline in cognitive skills and difficulty paying attention — a debilitating effect for students tasked with studying and learning each day in school.
Soccer, which ranks third nationally in participation by high school girls behind volleyball and track and field, has seen an astounding increase in concussions. In a 15-year study, concussions or closed head injuries rose nearly 1,600 percent among soccer players age 7-17, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Girls soccer showed the highest rate of concussions among girls sports analyzed in a 12-sport study, and the second-highest rate of concussions among all the sports in that study, which showed that football accounted for more than half the concussions in the study years of 1997-2008.
Because football is a high-contact sport, and because of its exposure nationally through the NFL and colleges, the sport attracts significant attention and study, right down to equipment.
Football helmet technology has advanced radically in recent years, but that hasn't stemmed the problem, according to Dr. Hunt Batjer, the co-chair of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He told The Dallas Morning News: "We know that the current device is inadequate to protect players."
Prevention is an ongoing battle in the game. Technology such as new specially designed goggles might help in identifying concussion-sufferers.
Raising awareness has also been an ongoing effort by a multitude of individuals and organizations, among them the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which emphasizes teaching athletes to report concussion symptoms and acquiring medical help as soon as possible.
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