Understanding and Avoiding Sports-Related Concussion Injuries

Help avoid serious injuries to our children.

It is once again that time of year when our children participate in organized sports. These sporting activities range from football, to lacrosse, to field hockey, to soccer, and others. Whether your child plays on a high school or college team, with a travel or house league, or plays pick-up games in the neighborhood, they are all at risk for injury, especially when it comes to contact sports. 

Approximately 30 million children and teenagers participate in organized sports in the United States each year and approximately 3 million injuries occur each year as a result of these activities.

The following estimations from a number of published reports highlight the dangerous nature of sports related activities:

  • Approximately 3 million children and teens under 15 get hurt annually playing organized sports or by participating in recreational activities.
  • The leading cause of death in a sports related injury is a brain injury.
  • Sports and recreational activities account for more than 20% of all traumatic brain injury cases among children and young teens.
  • The majority of head injuries are sustained in bicycle, skateboard or skating accidents.
  • More than three quarters of a million individuals under 15 years of age are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports related injuries.
  • Playgrounds, sports and bicycle related injuries occur most often in children between the ages of 5 and 14.
  • Nearly 80,000 children ages 5 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for trampoline related injuries.
  • Most organized sports related injuries occur during practice.

One of the increased risks that our student athletes face is that of concussions. By recognizing and properly responding to a concussion injury, you can help to prevent a traumatic brain injury or even death. Signs of a concussion include:

  • Confusion or headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Blurred vision or ringing in the ears
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Concentration difficulties or memory loss
  • Changes in sleeping patterns

Concussions are rated as follows:

  • Grade 1 (moderate) – Symptoms last for less than 15 minutes and there is no loss of consciousness
  • Grade 2 (moderate) – Symptoms last for longer than 15 minutes but still no loss of consciousness
  • Grade 3 (severe) – Loss of consciousness

The best course of action after any head injury is to seek medical attention so that a doctor or other healthcare professional can determine the severity of the injury and the treatment, if any. It is also important that you guard against future concussions as they can cause cumulative effects in the brain.

In order to lessen the risks of a concussion, you should make sure your student athlete wears the proper protective equipment. Since concussions can also result from car accidents a seat belt and shoulder harness should be worn at all times to lessen the risk of a head injury. Lastly, although apparently obvious, fights cause a great number of head and brain injuries, so it should be stressed to your child to avoid these situations for a great number of reasons.

By recognizing and better understanding concussions and traumatic brain injuries we can help our children enjoy their sporting activities while helping to ensure their safety.



Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.

About this column: Decoding the law, one column at a time.


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