Only 40% of TBI in Youth Related to Contact Sports

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


A new study from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that daily childhood activities not related to sports or recreation are the cause of 30% of concussions in children (Pediatrics:published online April 4, 2018). Although the majority of concussions (70%) are due to sports and recreational activity, just over half of those concussions and 40% of all concussions in children were related to contact sports.

Researchers examined the mechanism of injury for concussion for more than 1,500 children ages 0-17 who were medically evaluated at CHOP, a large and diverse pediatric healthcare system. 

Concussions that did not occur in the context of contact sports included those caused by noncontact sports and recreation activities, such as playground, recess, and gym activities,  as well as falls, motor vehicle crashes, and intentional assaults. These data suggest that gym/recess/recreational play is the fourth leading cause of concussion in children, after football, soccer, and basketball, and ahead of ice hockey.

Senior study author and a pediatric primary care sports medicine specialist at CHOP, Christina Master, MD stated, "Injury mechanism varies by age. Sports and recreation-related activities become the primary source of concussions beginning at age 6, increase in proportion up to age 10, remaining constant until age 16, then take a small dip at age 17 which may be due to an uptick in motor vehicle crash injury and attrition from sports. Clinicians and school-based personnel need to be aware of the fact that concussions also happen in life and not just sports and must also have the appropriate index of suspicion for diagnosing these injuries."

"This study tells us that we need to extend traumatic brain injury prevention and management outside of youth sports to ensure all children who sustain a concussion, receive the necessary care to return to daily childhood activities including school and play," says Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa, PhD, study lead author and senior health scientist at CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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