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Increased awareness of concussions can help young athletes

Growing awareness of the long-term impact of concussions on professional athletes has led researchers and sports medicine professionals to look more closely at injuries suffered by student-athletes.

Concussions aren't just for boys. In fact, the number of girls between 14 and 19 who have suffered concussions has doubled in the past decade. Girls' soccer and basketball are second and third behind football when it comes to the incidence of high school concussions.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when a person's head hits (or is hit by) something and the brain shakes. Sometimes, the brain even hits the skull.

Coaches, trainers and others who oversee young athletes are increasingly educated on the symptoms of concussions and expected to take a player out of the game if they suspect one. Some symptoms, however, may not present until well after an accident. These can include problems sleeping, mood swings and sensitivity to noise, light or motion.

One college trainer says, "About 80 to 90 percent of the people that get concussed are recovered in around 10 to 14 days, but if an athlete returns to action before their concussion is healed, they are more susceptible to get another one at a less impact."

Multiple concussions over a period of years, particularly if they were never allowed to properly heal, can cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Symptoms of this degenerative condition may not show up for years or even decades.

The doctor says that it's essential for someone who has suffered a concussion to rest their brain. He says, "We really try to reduce the amount of stimuli they have by taking away their cellphones" and reducing other stimuli. He says, "The symptoms have to be completely resolved before we can even start reintroducing them back into their sports or activities."

The number of kids between 8 and 13 who have gone to an emergency room for a concussion has doubled in the past decade. This may be, at least in part, because adults are more aware of the potential for concussion. However, half of all concussions are undetected or unreported.

Coaches and trainers are responsible for the safety and well-being of the athletes they're overseeing -- whatever their age. If you believe employees of a school or organization neglected to protect your child from a concussion, it may be wise to explore your legal options.

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