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What Are the Risks of Concussions and Sports?

How many fingers am I holding up?Any sport carries some risk of concussion, but some may be more dangerous than others. As school sports start up again, it’s important you understand what risks student athletes face when they get in the game.

Sports With the Most Concussions

Concussions are caused when the head is moved quickly back and forth, such as when a player is hit by another player or by a ball. The quick motion causes the brain to slam against the side of the skull, which can cause damage to brain tissue.

According to a 2017 study, football has the highest rate of concussions of any high school sport in the United States. They are 16 times more likely to experience a concussion during a game than baseball players. Other sports with higher concussion rates include:

  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Rugby

Though many people assume boys are at a higher risk for concussions, the study found that in sports that both sexes play, such as soccer, female players were more likely to experience a concussion. The study also found that concussions were more likely during games than during practice.

Long-Term Risks of Concussions

In the moment, concussions can be frightening. Players may lose consciousness, become very confused, or be unable to walk or talk. It is vital for their long-term health that they do not return to play until their brain has had a chance to rest and heal. This may take a couple of days for a minor concussion or a couple of weeks for major concussions.

Repeated concussions in adolescence can have long-reaching consequences. One study found that teens who suffered concussions were at a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis later in life. Concussions are also related to traumatic brain injuries, which can cause permanent damage. According to the CDC, 2.4 football players in the United States die from play-related brain injuries each year.

How to Reduce Concussion Risk

However, other studies have shown that men who played football in high school have no neurodegenerative differences at age 65 than men who did not play football. Though today’s play is certainly rougher and players are bigger, it’s not clear what the long-term effects of concussions will be.

Still, your player can take steps to reduce concussion risk. They should:

  • Wear a well-fitting helmet (if part of the sport)
  • Never lead with their head for a tackle or other maneuver
  • Avoid heading the ball in soccer
  • Participate in multiple sports year round

At Bon Secours Sports Performance, we offer a personalized concussion management program to help you return safely to sports and avoid long-term issues related to concussions. Contact us today to work with specially trained physicians and athletic trainers.