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Sports concussions can cause lasting injuries

There has been an increased media focus on sports-related concussions, making many people reconsider their views on youth sports. If you are the parent of children who play contact sports at the junior high or high school level, you may have some concerns about their risks for suffering concussions.

Concussion rates are alarming

In their recently published research letter, the Journal of the American Medical Association announced that as many as 20 percent of teenagers self-reported diagnoses of at least a single concussion. Another 6 percent report multiple concussion diagnoses.

Most concussions will result in temporary symptoms like nausea, headaches and irritability. But as many as 20 percent will continue to suffer from headaches, develop depression and struggle with concentration. Others can suffer from disrupted sleep patterns or even go on to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). That's the degenerative brain disorder that has been discovered at autopsy in the brains of a plethora of former professional football players.

Due to the dearth of available information regarding adolescent concussion prevalence rates and the correlating factors, research needs to continue in order to find solutions to the problem.

Some don't get treated

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), when young adults suffer head injuries, as many as 95 percent don't seek treatment in the emergency room. Some don't get any treatment at all, and others delay and wait to be seen by their primary care physicians.

Part of the survey addressed the teens' sports participation. Those involved in contact sports, e.g., hockey, wrestling, football, had higher rates of reported concussions, especially those in the higher grades.

While the survey is limited in that it required self-reporting, it does provide a snapshot view of student athletes' experiences with sports-related injuries.

What parents should know

If you have a child who participates in contact sports, you have the responsibility to make sure that they are safe. If the athletic director or the coach of your child's team doesn't have a protocol in place for dealing with head injuries, this could be a potential problem.

You can address your concerns with the school administrators if there is no plan in place. Not all side effects from concussions are immediately apparent, so it is important to ensure that your child gets the appropriate treatment.

Serious traumatic brain injuries can leave sufferers needing a lifetime of care and rehabilitative services. The costs associated with such care can easily bankrupt most families. That's why many families facing similar circumstances decide to pursue civil litigation in order to recoup some of their losses.

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