Most of the discussion about concussions focuses on football players, but there are plenty of other sports that can be dangerous to your children, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.
Concussion rates are much higher among high school athletes than at the college level, and girls who play soccer, lacrosse and basketball are most likely to jar their brains. After football, lacrosse, wrestling and soccer are “consistently associated with the highest rates of concussion” for boys, according to the committee.
The committee of academic medical experts looked at concussions in several youth sports with athletes aged five to 21 years old. They found that females and athletes who have already had a concussion have higher rates of sports-related concussions.
There’s an element of risk in practically every sport, but young bodies can recover from broken bones and major surgical advances can make joints almost new again. Concussions can set the stage for serious problems later in life.
We now know that any concussion is a serious matter, and multiple concussions are not something to be laughed off, yet there remains a “culture of resistance” when it comes to reporting concussions and treating them properly, according to the committee.
Doctors on the committee said it is important for parents of children who have had a concussion to keep their children from returning to practice or games until they’ve been seen by a doctor. The panel said a concussion treatment plan that includes physical and mental rest is beneficial, but there isn’t enough evidence to make a specific recommendation on the type or length of rest.
Parents need to be proactive in this area and err on the side of caution, particularly if your child is a star player and is feeling pressure to return to action. No success on the playing field is worth a lifetime of mental misery.
I used to joke with my wife that if we ever had a son, I’d get him a tennis racket or a set of golf clubs before he was old enough to discover football. Certainly, his playing days would have been over after his first concussion.