Throughout 2011, the media reported widely on the prevalence of concussions and other traumatic brain injury sustained by children and young athletes. A recently released study indicates that as the public’s awareness of this issue increases, the number of young athletes being treated for recreationally-sustained head injurieshas also increased.
The study was commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and focused on data related to emergency care for children and young athletes during the period of 2001-2009. In 2001, just over 150,000 recreationally-related brain injury visits were reported for this age group. The number of visits jumped to nearly 250,000 in 2009.
Many professionals view these numbers as heartening. The way in which the data was analyzed strongly supports the idea that awareness, not an increase in actual injury occurrence, accounts for the spike in visits. One of the study’s authors noted that “We would like to see the numbers go down because we hope we have gotten better at preventing (head injuries), but we knew the numbers would have to go up before they start to come down because awareness has to go up first.”