by Kimberly Allen, RN
We’re entering week 11 of the football season, basketball has started and hockey…… well maybe not, anyway the list of injuries seems to be growing every week. If you then take into consideration all the high school and college sports that are also taking place right now the injury list gets much longer. Over 3.5 million children under the age of 15 are treated for sports related injuries in the US every year and 21% of all traumatic brain injuries in children in the US are sports related. At least half of all sports related injuries in teens are related to over use. Over 60% of sports related injuries occur during practices not games.
The most frequent injuries related to sports are strains and overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur because of repetitive use, as well as excessive wear and tear on a particular part of the body especially the ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows. Sports medicine experts report that running is the most common high impact sport leading to injury. They also state that they treat more runners than any other recreational athlete, followed by those that skate and snowboard. The 10 most frequently reported sports related injuries are muscle pull, neck strain, frozen shoulder, lower back, tennis elbow, runners knee, shin splints, sprained ankle, achilles tendon and foot arch.
Though it didn’t make the top 10 traumatic brain injuries including concussions are a too frequent sports related injury. There hve already been numerous athletes assisted off the field after a hit to the head in both the NFL and NCAA games. Current estimates are that approximately 3.5 million people suffer concussions every year in sports and recreational activities. The experts estimate that over 20% of all traumatic brain injuries in children and teens are related to sports and recreational activity. Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death resulting from a sports related injury. I know people frequently don’t think of concussions as a traumatic brain injury but they are and they can be very serious. Concussions interfere with the way your brain functions. You can receive a concussion and not realize it however, every concussion you suffer injures your brain to some degree whether you are aware of the injury or not. It is wrong to believe you have to loose consciousness for it to be a concussion. Whether the concussion is mild or serious your brain needs time to rest and heal properly. If you don’t take enough time to allow your brain to heal properly and suffer another blow to the head or even hit to the ground hard enough to jerk your head the additional injury that occurs can lead to impairment and damage.
Fortunately the NCAA and NFL are taking the lead in properly protecting and treating athletes for concussions. Despite their ongoing efforts to prevent concussions the NCAA reports that the concussion rate has remained steady over the past 8 years. Many concussions are difficult to detect and many athletes do not report their symptoms or injuries because they don’t want to leave the game. It’s important for athletes of all ages as well as parents of athletes to understand whether mild or severe concussions are a brain injury requiring time to heal just like a muscle or tendon injury. Know the facts about concussions and take the proper precautions to prevent and treat them and you will be able to enjoy a much healthier athletic career.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.