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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). All concussions are serious.

In 2011,

  • 6,228 Utahns were treated and released from the emergency department (ED) for a concussion.
  • Of these, 41.7% were due to sports/recreation activities.
  • Half (48.3%) of all ED visits for sports/recreation-related concussions were among children ages 10-19. When age is looked at more closely, 25.7% of concussions from sports/recreation activities were among teens ages 15-19 and 22.6% were among children ages 10-14.

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

Prevention Tips

  • 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 skateboard;
    • 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 promptly, especially helmets and other protective head gear. Some helmets require replacing after any impact, even if there are no visible signs of damage.

Resources

References

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.