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Should Young Children Play Sports That Could Lead to Traumatic Brain Injury? MomTalk

State tells coaches and trainers to learn how to help curb the debilitating effects of recurring concussions among high school athletes.

Illinois government and school officials have taken a zero tolerance stance against sports-related head trauma just in time for football season.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new state bill last month, House Bill 200, effective immediately, that requires students who leave a game as a result of a head injury to be cleared by a doctor before returning to the playing field.

The National Federation of State High School Associations estimates that 140,000 students sustain sports-related concussions every year. While football players comprise the majority of this statistic, the new law applies to all student athletes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveal that sports are the second-leading cause of traumatic brain injury in young adults in the 15-to-24 age group. About 40 percent of these athletes return to the sport before making a full recovery, which puts them at greater risk for future concussions and long-term brain damage.

Northwestern University Medical School partnered with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) to host a symposium aimed at educating school officials about concussion. Doctors met with coaches, trainers and athletic directors to help them identify early warning signs and proper protocol for a concussed athlete.

During the symposium, some athletic directors expressed concern about the additional funding needed to employ enough trained professionals to oversee injured athletes. Others speculated that more coaches and referees would err on the side of caution and sideline a greater number of athletes.

The hope is that early identification and intervention will curb the incidence of long-term damage among high school kids. But what about the child who's played football since he was 5? He's undoubtedly sustained plenty of impact blows by the time he enters high school. Furthermore, children between the ages of 5 and 18 are more likely to get a concussion than adults. They also take longer to recover from the injury.

With that in mind, should very young children be encouraged to participate in sports that are potentially dangerous to their neurological development?

Dave Dougherty August 18, 2011 at 06:40 PM
I just got an email today about this company via Eastbay.
Nate August 18, 2011 at 07:48 PM
I agree with susie and why the government have to tell us what is safe for our children
Play Houses August 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM
I totally agree susie, when I was younger it was all a part of growing up! you learn things from bumping your head or falling over and these are key in a childs development I feel. Simon - http://www.playhouses.co.uk/
Kathy Quilty August 21, 2011 at 02:59 PM
In High School District 230, they have been doing concussion tests for a few years now at the beginning of each sports season. They can take the player into the school and do another one as soon as a player is hit in the head. I do not know everything about it, but I am sure you can contact the Athletic Director of the school and ask him for more details.
Kathie August 22, 2011 at 01:35 PM
@Nate - ummm, think about your question again. Because parents do NOT always do what is best or safest for their children, sometimes out of ignorance, but also- and unfortunately, sometimes out of selfishness they do what is best for THEM or THEIR (own) needs.

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