Facts About Sports Concussion from the American Headache Society

SCOTTSDALE, AZ November 10, 2011
  • Between 2001 and 2009, emergency room visits for brain injuries among children and adolescents increased 62% (up from 153,375 to 248,314). (CDC)
  • Most likely causes are from recreational activities with bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer most likely to lead to injuries. (CDC)
  • More than 500,000 concussions in the United States are sustained by the 4.4 million children who play tackle football. (Nat. Center for Sport Injury Research)
  • Among males 10-19 football is the most common cause of concussion; among females 10-19 the most common causes are soccer, basketball and bicycling. (CDC)
  • CDC believes the increases in emergency room visits are a result of:
    • Increased participation in sports
    • Increased incidence of concussion
    • Increased awareness by parents, coaches and the public at large about the need for medical attention after injury
  • At least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states since 1997 have been killed or have sustained serious head injuries on the field (NY Times 9/17/2007)
  • Nearly 15% of sports related injuries in high school athletes are from concussion (Meehan et al, Am J Sports Med 2011 Oct 3)
  • Some 136,000 high school students experience a concussion during an academic year. (Mayo Clinic)
  • Concussion can occur even without a blow to the head (Mayo) and 90% of concussions are not associated with loss of consciousness
  • All concussions should be considered serious, although most cause symptoms that last a short time. However, repeated concussions take longer to resolve and may risk permanent neurological damage (Mayo)
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, concussion is a brain injury caused by trauma directly to the head or transmitted to the brain from a force to the body
  • Persistent headache is the most common symptom of concussion, along with sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting and nausea, and poor concentration (Mayo)
  • If an athlete returns to play too soon, there is greater risk of another concussion that may last longer and result in permanent neurological impairment (Mayo)
  • Most concussions go undiagnosed – in football and hockey, the number of actual concussions is six to seven times higher than the number diagnosed (Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy)
  • Because headache is one of the most common symptoms of concussion, the American Headache Society is increasing its efforts to raise awareness among health care providers and migraine specialists about the increase in concussion among young people and those participating in sports
  • The CDC’s "Heads Up Initiative" was developed to educate health-care providers, coaches, athletic trainers, school nurses, teachers, counselors, parents, and student athletes about concussion and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • The National Federation of State High School Associations has issued the 2011 Suggested Guidelines for the Management of Concussion in Sports in light of "understanding of sports-related concussion has evolved dramatically in recent years …that young athletes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a concussion."
  • In 2009, the NFL announced that it would impose stringent rules on managing concussions and require players who exhibit significant signs of concussion to be removed from a game and be barred from returning the same day, and earlier this year announced it would begin a "progressive longitudinal study" on the effects of concussion on players’ cognitive function.
  • 38 states have passed or have concussion legislation pending
Expert Resources:
David W. Dodick, MD, President, American Headache Society; Professor of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Dodick.David@mayo.edu
Bert B. Vargas, MD, Neurologist
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine vargas.bert@mayo.edu
Alan G. Finkel, MD, Chair, Post-traumatic Headache Section, American Headache Society; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina; Carolina Headache Institute FinkelA@carolinaheadacheinstitute.com
Frank Conidi, MD, Director, Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology; Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Florida State University School of Medicine; team neurologist, Florida Panthers fxneuro@bellsouth.net 
Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, Chair, Exercise Sports Sciences, Department of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina; 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Gus@unc.edu
Organizational Resources:
American Headache Society Americanheadachesociety.org 
Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/concussion/DS00320
National Federation of State High School Associations  www.nfhs.org/
Centers for Disease Control   cdc.gov/concussion/
CONTACTS:     Joyce Yaeger  
            Joan Kaplan
            914- 282-7095





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QaRuAoUuuv, ID
9/15/2012 12:57 AM

  As a doctoral pyishcal therapy student I was a research assistant for the orthopedic professor who had a profound interst in cervical rehabilitation. One of my primary takehome points was positioning of the neck by sepreating the neck into it's upper-cervical and lower-cervical segments (Upper = C0 and C1; Lower = C2-C7) Neutral upper cervical flexion was emphasized. Although my details are foggy, there was a study that showed a decrease in cervical whiplash forces in cervical spines that were in this position. I wonder how this applies to concussions as the neck would not be in as stable of a postion if not in neutral position. Another take home point related to prime movers vs. local stabilizers in the neck. The professor emphasized the point that training the cervical stabilizers is best done with low load training. In short three categories I would envision being researched in relation to concussions would be cervical posture at impact, cervical stabilizer size and strength vs. prime mover size and strength, and cervical joint mobility > all in relation to concussion rate. I hope this food-for-thought is valuable. Thank-you for your valuable work!

eZvhbsCYjd, NV
5/28/2012 08:49 AM

  Good luck to you Zach. You had a great career and shulod be very proud. Though my career was nothing like yours, I too had no regrets till I hit about 50 (last year). Due to my 8 football related brain surgeries, my life is a constant battle to just stay on top of things. My head injuries and brain surgeries were not a big deal while I was single, but since I married and started a family in 1997 (at age 37), I have been fighting more and more demons each year. In an attempt to try to improve my ever worsening memory, they started me on TWO dementia medicines within the last few months. Arricept (which didn't produce the results they wanted), so they stacked Naminda on top of it. I am a wildlife biologist, environmental consultant and run my own business, and shulodn't have to be battling dementia at age 51 on top of it all. George VisgerSF 49ers 80 & 81

2/1/2012 08:08 PM

  Well put, sir, well put. I'll cetrianly make note of that.

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