What is a concussion?
- A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion changes how the brain normally functions.
- Concussions can have serious and long-term health effects, and even a seemingly mild 'ding' or a bump on the head can be serious.
- Signs and symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, fatigue, confusion or memory problems, sleep disturbances, or mood changes; symptoms are typically noticed right after the injury, but some might not be recognized until days or weeks later.
How many sports concussions occur each year?
- An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.1
- During 2001-2005, children and youth ages 5-18 years accounted for 2.4 million sports-related emergency department (ED) visits annually, of which 6% (135,000) involved a concussion.2
In what sports are concussions most often reported?
- Among high school athletes, concussions are most often caused by contact with an opponent, a team mate, the ground, or a piece of equipment or object in the playing area.3
- In organized high school sports, concussions occur more often in competitive sports, with football accounting for more than 60% of concussions.4
- For males, the leading cause of high school sports concussion is football; for females the leading cause of high school sports concussion is soccer.4
- Among children and youth ages 5-18 years, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions include: bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer.2
What is known about sports concussion risk and recovery?
- High school athletes' recovery times for a sports concussion are longer than college athletes' recovery times.5
- High school athletes who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion.3
- Lack of proper diagnosis and management of concussion may result in serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death.6,7
How can sports concussions be prevented?
Make sure that while participating in sports or recreational activities you or your children:
- Use the right protective equipment for the sport or activity, and be sure that it is properly fitted and maintained and worn correctly and consistently.
- Follow safety rules and those for the sport.
- Practice good sportsmanship at all times.
What should you do if you think you or your child has had a concussion?
- Seek medical attention right away.
– A health care professional will be able to decide when it is safe to return to sports.
- Do not return to play with a known or suspected concussion until evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care professional.
Second concussions that occur before you have recovered can be very serious.
- Tell your coach or child’s coach about any recent concussions.
1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MM. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2006;21:375-78.
2. Department of Health and Human Services (US), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Non-fatal sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency departments – United States, 2001-2005. MMWR. 2007;56(29);733-37.
3. Guskiewicz KM, Weaver NL, Padua DA, Garrett WE. Epidemiology of concussion in collegiate and high school football players. Am J Sports Med. 2000;28(5);643-50.
4. Powell JW, Barber-Foss KD. Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes. JAMA. 1999;282(10);958-63.
5. Field M, Collins MW, Lovell MR, Maroon J. Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes. J Pediatrics. 2003;142(5);546-53.
6. Department of Health and Human Services (US), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sports-related recurrent brain injuries – United States. MMWR. 1997;46(10):224-27.
7. Buzzini SRR, Guskiewicz KM. Sport-related concussion in the young athlete. Curr Opin Pediatrics. 2006;18:376-82.
It is better to miss one game than the whole season.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov.