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Young Atheletes Face Increased Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury: Study

The number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among young athletes has increased 60% over the last 10 years, federal health regulators warn. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report earlier this month, indicating that youths 19 and under face increasing risk of TBIs with increased severity and prolonged recovery when compared to adults. The CDC estimates that minors account for 65% of all sports-related emergency department visits due to concussions and other TBIs.

In 2001, 153,375 young athletes were admitted to emergency rooms across the country for concussions and other sports-related head injuries. But by 2009, that number had climbed to 248,418, according to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). Fatal head injuries were not included in the report. Overall, about 298 youths per 100,000 suffered a head injury in 2009, up from 190 per 100,000 in 2001.

Bicycling and playground activities were the most common cause of TBIs. Other sports which were associated with a large portion of youth TBIs included football, basketball and soccer. Males ages 10 to 19 had the highest rate of injuries.

The CDC recommended that increasing awareness of TBI risks from sports and recreation, as well as employing proper techniques, protective equipment and quickly responding to injuries could reduce the number of TBIs among children as well as their severity and long-term health effects.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a the head injuries each year. Such brain damage often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care. Why the number of injuries has increased among minors was not known.

Athletes are not the only people with a high risk of TBIs.  Motorcycle and automobile accidents account for about 20% of all traumatic brain injuries.

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