Are High-Impact Sports Responsible for an Increase in Brain Injuries?

Many parents may not be aware that risks present in professional sports may also exist in high school sports, such as the possibility of sustaining a concussion, which can have lasting health effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of concussions in the last 10 years has doubled. Research from other organizations show similar numbers, and data gathered by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that concussions have risen 200 percent among teens aged 14 to 19.

One of the greatest dangers for high school athletes is the possibility of sustaining repeated concussions. Statistics gathered by the AAP show that 33 percent of high school athletes report more than one concussion per year, putting them at risk for mental health issues such as major depression.

In addition to short-term effects, sustaining repeated concussions might also lead to a later diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can cause permanent mental health complications and might contribute to early onset dementia.

Football is Not the Only Sport Responsible for TBIs

Although football has a high rate of concussions among athletes, it is not solely responsible for a national increase in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Other sports can contribute to the risk of sustaining a TBI, such as soccer, wrestling and even cycling.

One study done by Harvard University scanned the brains of high school soccer players and swimmers to compare abnormalities between the two sports. According to the research, soccer players had abnormalities in brain tissue while swimmers did not.

Fortunately, learning how to prevent concussions and recognize their symptoms can help athletes stay safe.

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Did You Know? A University of California San Diego study used a group of 70 children who had recently received a concussion to find a link between brain injuries and depression. The study found 28 percent still experienced depression 12 months later.

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