Sports-related TBIs and Concussions
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. It’s estimated that 75% of TBIs that occur nationally each year are concussions or other mild TBIs (1).
In 2009, 6,445 Utahns were treated and released from the
emergency department (ED) for a concussion. Of these, one-fourth
(24.0%) were due to sports/recreation activities.
Half (49.5%) of all ED visits for sports/recreation-related
concussions were among children ages 10-19. When age
is looked at more closely, 29.1% of concussions from
sports/recreation activities were among teens ages
15-19 and 20.4% were among children ages 10-14.
All concussions are serious. Even “getting
your bell rung” can be serious.
Utah's Concussion Law
In 2011, the Utah State
Legislature passed the Protection of Athletes with Head Injuries Act. This law requires amateur sports organizations and schools (ski resorts are exempt from the law) to adopt and enforce a
concussion and head injury policy
and to get written approval of the
policy by parents/legal guardians before
their child participates in a sport activity.
A child who gets a head injury
must be removed from play
and may only return after written
clearance from a qualified
health care provider. Qualified health care providers must have taken a continuing education course in the evaluation and management of a concussion within the last three years.
Concussion and Head Injury Continuing Education Courses for Health Care Providers
- Wear a helmet when:
- Riding an OHV/ATV, bicycle, skateboard, or scooter;
- Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
- Using inline skates or riding a
- Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;
- Riding a horse; or
- Skiing or snowboarding.
- Ask your league, school, or district
about concussion policies. Utah law requires youth sports organizations to
have a concussion policy.
- Teach and practice safe playing
techniques. Follow all rules pertaining
to your sport.
- Teach athletes it’s not smart to
play with a concussion. When an
athlete has a concussion, the brain
needs time to heal. Don’t let your
athlete return to play until a health
care professional, experienced
in evaluating for
concussion, says they are
symptom-free and it’s OK
to return to play.
- Replace damaged equipment
helmets and other protective
head gear. Some
helmets require replacing
after any impact, even if
there are no visible signs of
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevnetion and Control. Report to Congress
on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: Steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Altanta
(GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.