Happy first day of spring! To all the parents — happy first day of carpools, misplaced uniforms, offensively smelly cleats, painfully slow games and sideline cheerleading. Welcome back to your precious weekend days being overtaken by soccer, lacrosse and baseball and your weekend nights spent rehashing what happened on some overused, uneven, beat-up field. I’m not knocking it – well, ok, I am knocking it. But I will be right there with you — shouting ridiculous words of encouragement, hoping my kid makes a goal or a save, and questioning the call of some pimply kid in a ref uniform. Remember the title of the book I’ll never write? We Are a World Gone Mad – Myself Included! This is never as evident as it is at children’s sporting events. We should all have our heads examined. Speaking of which, there’s my topic for the week — head injury in children. It is one I feel very strongly about, as most children are fairly dumb and can’t afford to lose any brain function.
What are the riskiest activities for sustaining head injury in children?
1. Boys’ sports – Ice hockey, football and lacrosse (in that order) have the highest incidence per player of concussion with football having the highest numbers overall.
2. Girls’ sports – Soccer has the highest rate of concussion.
3. In boys’ and girls’ sports that are similar, such as soccer, baseball/softball and basketball, girls have twice the risk of getting a concussion.
4. There is a much greater risk of sustaining a head injury during a competitive game than during a practice session.
5. Overall, the incidence of concussion in children and adolescents is on the rise. I assume that this is due, in part to sports becoming more competitive, and in part to the encouragement from the sideline-sitters to be better, faster and more aggressive. Funny, no one ever got a concussion from being pushed to study a little harder.
The take-home point for today is that head injury can happen in any sport. Football is famous for it, but the risk exists in a very real way during non-contact sports. This week, more on the specifics of concussion, the immediate dangers and the long-term side effects. When you are suiting up your little people this week and giving them advice on how they should play, remember that behind that beautiful face is a beautiful brain that you are responsible for protecting. Even when they go-pro, as I am certain they all will, they may still want to be able to read a book.