So says a new study from researchers at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, MO, which found that the diagnosis of pediatric concussion cases increased by 58% between 2001 and 2010.
On the soccer team that I coach, we have had four concussions this past year, though just one was on our watch. And that was because a kid on the other team threw down one of our smallest players to the ground right in front of our bench. The resulting THUD resounded through the ground and caused a collective gasp among parents and players alike. (Sadly, it did not result in a red card for the offending player.)
Two of my team’s concussions happened during games with other teams, and one was the result of a snowboarding accident — teen with no helmet vs. ground.
Yes, this represents a steep rise in concussions on our team. I attribute it to two factors: 1. They’re teens now, and they play rougher, and 2. The coaches and parents are more concussion savvy.
In fact, we coaches were required to undergo concussion training last season. As a result, when one of the kids who had already suffered a concussion clocked heads with another during a tournament this spring, I pulled him off the field to check him out.
When I asked him, “What day is it?” he answered, ” I don’t know. But I didn’t know before the game either.” It was spring break, and we were on day two of a tournament, so I’ll give him that.
He didn’t have other symptoms other than a bruise where his head had collided with the other kid’s nose, so I left it up to his father to determine whether he was okay to go back into the game, which he was.
Years ago, I may have taken his fleeting shout of “I’m okay!” from the field as the deciding factor on playing or pulling him. Not anymore.
Reports Jeffrey Colvin, MD, JD. the study’s lead author, “In our view, the higher rate of concussion diagnoses is a good sign that public education efforts have been working.”
When it comes to recognizing the symptoms of concussions, coaches and parents have come a long way. No longer do we tell our players to suck it up and go back onto the field.
This year, our soccer club began offering concussion baseline testing this year, and I sent my son along. Hopefully, he’ll never have to retest, but if he does, I’ll know the signs of concussion. The CDC offers a training program for coaches and parents of youth sports athletes. Click here to check it out.
Meanwhile, tell your kids what day it is before the game starts.