Each year, almost 87,000 hockey-related injuries to youths under age 15 are treated in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and hospital emergency rooms. The total cost of these hockey-related injuries was more than $978 million in 2006. This amount includes medical, legal and liability, work loss, and pain and suffering costs.
Concussion signs (observable by others) and symptoms (experienced by the athlete) fall into five clusters: symptoms, physical signs, behavioral changes, cognitive impairments, and sleep difficulties. Symptom scales continue to be a critical component in concussion assessment.
Parents are critical participants in the recognition and treatment of, and recovery from, a concussion, not only in the first 24 to 48 hours but during every step in the process towards an eventual return to the play.
Athletes who suffer concussion should follow a six-step, symptom-limited, return to play process towards return to game play and may require a longer rest period and/or extended period of non-contact exercise before return than adults because they have a different physiological response to concussion, take longer to recover, and have other unique risk factors.
Football remains the sport in which athletes are most at risk of concussions, but other sports (particularly boy's hockey and boys' lacrosse) also have high incidences of concussion, with concussion representing the highest share of injuries in hockey.
Because the brain of the young athlete is still developing, with even subtle damage leading to learning deficits adversely affecting development, and with studies showing younger athletes recover more slowly than adults, a more conservative approach to concussions in children and teens than for older athletes is recommended.
With demand for concussion education at an all-time high, who
should sports programs hire to educate athletes, coaches, and parents
about concussions? A leading concussion
educator provides helpful advice on who to look for.