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Sports Brain Injuries Increase Significantly in Past Decade

The Chicago brain injury attorneys at our firm have long been concerned about the seeming increase in young athletes who suffer serious head injuries while playing sports. Many of these victims are young students, and their families may not understand the overall scope and potential consequence of these accidents. New research exploring the long-term impact of these sports brain injuries continues to show that they are more serious than previous thought. A variety of lifetime complications could develop if these accidents are not more aggressively prevented and better treated.

New figures on the problem indicate that much awareness still needs to be raised about this issue. As reported Thursday in Bloomberg Business Week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced a troubling rise in youth head injuries. The federal agency noted that over the past nine years, the total number of emergency room visits for head injuries affecting young athletes increase by 60%. Upon closer examination it appeared that bicycling, football, and playground accidents were the most common cause of these head trauma. Soccer and basketball injuries were also found to play a large role in the brain trouble. The raw figures reveal jut how many young people are affected by these injuries. In 2001 there were slightly more than 150,000 ER visits because of these accidents. Only nine year later, in 2009, that figure had risen to nearly 250,000. The problem still affects boys more than girls-likely because boys are more likely to play contact sports. 71% of ER visits were among males. Similarly, those in their teens were significantly more likely to suffer injury. This is again a product of the type of activities that these older children engage in as opposed to those who are particularly young.

While the figures may appear particularly troubling at first glance, it is important to remember that a large factor in the increase may actually be more awareness on the part of coaches and parents that head injuries cannot be shrugged off. When a young athlete is involved in any situation with seemingly severe head trauma-or even indicates symptoms indicative of head trauma-then a doctor must be consulted right away. Even if the brain injury turns out to be less serious and not require hospitalization, it is always beneficial to have a doctors opinion because even minor injuries can have long-term effects or lead to impairments.

As one expert in the area explained, young brains “are known to be more vulnerable to the chemical changes that occur” after a brain injury. Therefore while a child may seem fine after a particularly rough football tackle or a fall off a bicycle, they may actually have suffered brain trauma that will present severe complications down the road as chemical changes are spurred by the trauma. Our Illinois head injury lawyers continue to urge parents not to take risks in these situations. Children have their entire lives ahead of them, and it is particularly troubling when they are affected by a brain injury with complications that could have been avoided if proper care had been provided in a timely fashion.

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