According to the Brain Injury Association of Colorado, a conservatively estimated 1,500 to 2,500 youth athletes visit Colorado emergency rooms for sports-related concussions each year. At the same time, the number of children treated in the Concussion Program at Children's Hospital Colorado has risen steadily over the last three years at an average rate of 32% per year.
“Concussions pose particular risks to children and young adults, whose brains are still developing and may take longer to recover after an injury,” said Dr. Joe Grubenhoff, emergency medicine physician with Children’s Concussion Program. “Most concussions heal within a couple of weeks, but every concussion is serious. A young athlete needs plenty of time – and proper medical management – to give the brain an opportunity to mend.”
Children's Hospital Colorado actively supported Senate Bill 40, otherwise known as the Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act. This bill, which was signed into law on March 29, 2011 by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, requires that coaches of all youth organized sports for kids age 11-18 complete annual concussion recognition education. These trainings are free, quick, and available online. Further, if the coach suspects a youth athlete has sustained a concussion, the coach must immediately remove the athlete from play, and the athlete cannot return to practice or play until evaluated by a licensed health care provider and cleared to return. The legislation covers middle school-aged athletes as well as high school kids because this age range is most at risk for sports-related concussions.
Read more about what this new law means for young athletes from the following news outlets:
Children's Hospital Colorado wants children to be active, but also to be safe. To that end, it offers the following concussion-related information for parents and other caregivers:
Concussion symptoms that an athlete may experience include dizziness, headache or “pressure” in the head, vomiting, confusion, blurry or double vision, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling groggy or dazed, concentration or memory issues and being “knocked out.” However, a person does not need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have had a concussion.
In the first 1-2 days after the injury, parents should watch their child very carefully. Signs to be on the lookout for include appearing dazed; forgetting what happened before or after the injury; clumsy movement; slow responses to questions; and mood, behavior or personality changes. Parents can give their kids acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches, but no other medications should be given during this time without a doctor’s approval.
When to seek medical help
Serious problems after a concussion are rare, but can occur. For this reason, a medical doctor should always be involved in a young person’s care after a concussion.
Parents should seek IMMEDIATE medical help if their child displays:
- A headache that gets worse, lasts for a long time, or is severe
- Confusion, extreme sleepiness, or trouble waking up
- Vomiting three or more times
- Trouble walking or talking
- A seizure (arms or legs stiffen or shake uncontrollably)
- Any other sudden change in thinking or behavior
Download a handout about Colorado's Senate Bill 40 (.pdf)