Concussions are traumatic injuries to the brain that result from a violent blow to the head or a hit to the body. This injury is strong enough to cause the head to forcefully jerk in any direction. Injury to the brain can be minor or serious. They can also resolve quickly or linger. Any sport that involves contact, either with another person or an object, can cause a concussion. So can other activities that may impact the head, such as falls, physical assault, or motor vehicle accidents.
Most concussions don’t cause permanent damage to the brain. But there is that possibility, especially if you’ve had more than one concussion in your lifetime. Even if the effects are felt only temporarily, it can take days, weeks, or even months to fully recover from a concussion.
An Increased Risk for Concussion?
Adolescents are at the highest risk of concussion compared to other age groups. This is mostly due to sports-related injuries and bike accidents. Older adults and very young children are also at an increased risk for concussion due to their risk of falls. Additionally, you're at a higher risk of experiencing a concussion if you're:
- Involved in a car accident
- A victim of physical abuse
- Someone who does extreme sports
For example, extreme winter sport like skiing and snowboarding can lead to crashes that result in traumatic brain injuries. A 2015 study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that snowboarding accounted for about 30% of concussions during extreme sports, and skiing accounted for about 25%.
Why Is This Concerning for Kids?
It's never good for anyone to have a concussion. It’s especially concerning when they affect children and teenagers because their brains are still growing. This may make them more susceptible to the effects of a concussion. And an ongoing study shows that concussions have been steadily increasing in high school athletes, despite increased awareness about the risk. The study collected information from 9 sports over 13 years and found that the number of concussions increased significantly in all sports. It also found that girls experienced a significantly higher concussion rate than boys in similar sports.
Are More People Getting Concussions?
It’s difficult to know whether the increase in the number of concussions reported is due to:
- Greater public awareness
- Improved diagnostic guidelines
- Stricter reporting laws
Or if there are actually more concussions than there used to be. But whatever the reason for what appears to be an increase in concussions, it’s important to recognize that any type of concussion can be serious and requires prompt medical care by a trained healthcare professional.
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