A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move quickly inside the skull.
Even what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. Concussions happen after a fall or if athletes collide with each other or with obstacles.
The potential for concussions is greatest in athletic environments where collisions are common but also happen in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity.
As many as 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions happen in the United States each year. Studies show the more concussions you get, the more likely you are to suffer long term consequences, especially if you do not give your brain enough time to heal between injuries.
Concussions and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) are the hardest to detect and may not always have obvious signs and symptoms. Concussions happen without losing consciousness and you can even experience a concussion without a direct impact to the head with forceful enough blow to the body. One major source of concussions is youth sports.
In youth sports like American Football, Soccer, Ice Hockey, and Baseball concussion incidents are on the rise. Participation in high-risk youth sports is over 20 Million and the play is getting faster, more complex, and more dangerous. Youth age 15 to 19 have seen the sharpest rise in concussion incidents, followed by 10 to 14 years of age (1).
This is especially concerning because these ages are critical in the mental and emotional development path to adulthood and repeated, untreated mTBI during this development causes permanent injury to the brain.
Our youth are not being prioritized for work in concussion detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. There is no system or protocol for tracking the objective and rapid detection of mTBI in an individual in youth sports. To understand the extent of a head injury, EM personnel, coaches, trainers, and doctors use their acquired skills to talk to the injured, looking directly into their eyes. At best, a medical professional applies the “swinging light test” or Q&A models to assess the severity of a concussion. These results rely on the experience of the professional and vary widely in their application.
Tracking of the history of mTBI is nonexistent as individuals have repeat injuries or move to other sports and activities. When a new concussion event occurs, there is no objective history of past events to help professionals accurately diagnose and treat repeated events.