Kids Concussions

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:26pm

Number of concussions among middle school athletes skyrockets.

New statistics are out on the number of athletes who are sent to the emergency room for concussions.

The players are younger than you might think.

One hard hit can knock an athlete senseless.

"It's probably the scariest thing that's ever happened to me, to wake up and not know what's happening or why you're so groggy and why you can't remember anything," says Jake Skinner.

The teenager suffered four concussions as a high school football player.

A new study finds older teens have the highest rate of emergency room visits for sports-related concussions among children.

The study shows concussions among younger players, ages 8- to 13-years old, have doubled since 1997.

Concussion experts say middle-schoolers may think they need to play through the pain and often have difficulty explaining their symptoms when they get knocked around on the playing field.

Still, it seems adults are getting better at detecting concussions when their young patients aren't much help.

"When a brain is still developing, it's still wiring, it's still getting organized," say Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher of the Michigan Neurosport Concussion Program. "There's a lot that can go wrong, and at that age it's really important to be very careful."

To boost concussion awareness the Centers for Disease Control just released a free online training tool for coaches and parents.

Experts say one of the best ways to determine the severity of a head injury is to give athletes baseline cognitive tests before and after heavy hits.

The tests are easily accessed by professional athletes, but not widespread among pee wee players.

Football and ice hockey were the organized team sports associated with the highest numbers of concussions.

Classic concussion symptoms include headache, confusion, dizziness and balance issues.

Kids can also exhibit personality changes, like becoming more withdrawn.

Experts say the best way to heal the brain is to rest it.

That means sleep a lot and forego intensive brain activities like homework and video games.

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