Home > Dementia risk, Head injury, Medical issues, Prevention, Safety > More on Concussions in Children

More on Concussions in Children

Recently I wrote about the recent rise of something called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a form of dementia that is being seen more and more in athletes and others who suffer repeated head injuries.  There have been a number of stores in the news media in the last several months about the efforts being undertaken to prevent further injuries of this type, especially when it comes to our children.

Speaking of children, I ran across a rather frightening statistic earlier today.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that there has been an increase of 62 percent in the number of emergency room visits by children with non-fatal head injuries, between the years of 2001 and 2009.  (That’s a huge increase, by anyone’s standards.)  It seems that most of these injuries happened to young males between the ages of 10 and 19 years.

Even so, it’s been estimated that as many as 3.8 million sports-related concussions take place in the U.S. every year, and many of these are going untreated (and possibly unrecognized).  This may be due, at least in part, to he fact that many concussions do not cause a loss of consciousness.  Also, in many cases there is no observable damage noted on a CT scan or MRI.

So, what’s the answer?  Personally speaking, I’d be very leery of letting any son of mine play impact sports.  But that’s not what the experts are advising.  Some doctors are speculating that, when a young person gets a concussion, they should not only be kept off the playing field for a longer period of time, but should also be held out of the classroom.  It seems that working the part of the brain that has been injured can lead to increased inflammation and scarring.  And many scientists studying how dementia develops are finding that the inflammatory process plays a big part.

Something else that’s been discovered is that it’s not the first concussion that causes the most harm.  It’s the second, due to something called “second impact syndrome.” Animal research is showing that an injured brain requires more oxygen, and a second injury can actually decrease the availability of that precious substance.

Research is on-going with regards to this problem.  Parents and educators, as well as legislators and other public and private agencies, all have ideas as to what needs to be done.  (Some of them conflicting with each other.)  But it’s good to see that this matter is getting the attention it deserves.

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