A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with the force transmitted to the head. The brain basically hits the front, back and/or sides of the skull which causes injury. These are not structural or tearing injuries which is why MRI and CT scans are not particularly helpful. You can’t see a concussion and most sports concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
Concussions range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. They affect the cognitive centers of the brain, primarily memory and reaction time. Even though most concussions are mild, all concussions are potentially serious and may result in complications including prolonged brain damage and death if not recognized and managed properly. In other words, even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. The risk of catastrophic injury, or death, resulting from a concussion or brain injury is significantly increased if not properly evaluated and managed.
According to the Washington State House Bill (1999) concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries among children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 3,900,000 sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.
The incidence of concussion overall in all sports is approximately 9 – 10%. Sports with a higher incidence (approximately 12- 13%) include football, hockey, lacrosse and women soccer. The brain is not fully mature until age 19, therefore adolescents, particularly females, are more susceptible to concussions, including recurrent concussions. NOTE: Adolescent female athletes that play soccer and lacrosse have some of the highest incidence of concussions.