Spike in sports-related brain injuries causes alarm

  • By Samuel Adams Bloomberg News
  • Monday, July 15, 2013 2:33pm
  • LifeSports

A surge in sports-related brain injuries among youth is pushing health officials to call for public policy changes after similar safety efforts helped reduce head-trauma deaths from motor vehicle accidents.

A 40 percent drop since 1980 in traumatic brain injury deaths from car crashes can serve as an example for initiatives that target contact sports such as football, according to a report today from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Traumatic brain injuries suffered by people under age 19 from sports and recreation activities rose 60 percent from 2001 to 2009, the CDC said, citing data released earlier.

Lawsuits against the National Football League and the suicides of prominent former professional athletes have created scrutiny of the long-term effects of head injuries suffered on playing fields.

The Institute of Medicine, an advisory panel to U.S. policymakers, began an investigation this year into the risk of sports concussions for players from elementary school age through young adulthood.

While deaths from brain trauma among those ages 15 to 19 have been cut in half from 1999 to 2010, emergency room trips for athletic injuries by those teenagers have greatly increased, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Atlanta-based agency has begun collaborating with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the NFL and other sports groups to educate coaches and players about how to treat potential on-field trauma or prevent it altogether.

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by collisions or jolts to the head that disrupt normal brain function. Concussions, a mild form of traumatic brain injuries that constitute three quarters of diagnoses, are common within contact sports such as football and lacrosse.

More than 3,000 former players and their families have sued the NFL seeking damages for head injuries, as well as for allegedly concealing data about the long-term dangers of repeated concussions.

The family of linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May 2012, also sued the league on the contention that brain damage sustained during his 20 seasons drove him to his death.

Including all causes, such as falls and assaults, at least 2.4 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were related to a traumatic brain injury in 2009, the CDC said.

Brain trauma cost an estimated $76.5 billion in direct U.S. medical expenditures and indirect costs such as lost wages and productivity.

Among the general population, falls cause more than 35 percent of traumatic brain injury, though children under 14 and adults over 65 are more susceptible to accidents in this way. Motor vehicle crashes and blunt impact each contribute 17 percent.

More in Life

Mukilteo’s Hani Hani scores with the police chief

The Japanese restaurant serves dishes (poke, ramen, grill) inspired by the Hawaiian islands.

‘Coco’ is another eye-popping home run for Pixar/Disney

The animated movie’s a lively, touching tale of honoring family, following dreams.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Plant of Merit: Mahonia x media ‘Charity,’ evergreen shrub

What: Mahonia x media “Charity” is a statuesque, evergreen shrub with bright… Continue reading

Gardening answers for raised beds, invasive plants and more

Columnist Adrian Higgins answered gardeners’ questions recently in an online Washington Post chat.

Garden clubs in Snohomish, Island counties

Alderwood Garden Club: Cedar Valley Grange Hall, 20526 52nd Ave. W., Lynnwood;… Continue reading

Sally and Tom Joy surrounded by Christmas decorations at their home on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 in Mukilteo, Wa. The Joys are opening their home to the holiday home tour, a fundraiser for the Assistance League. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
A joyous display: 5 houses on Assistance League’s holiday tour

The annual self-guided Holiday Home Tour is a fundraiser for the Operation School Bell program.

Add evergreen perennials to your garden for winter interest

Here’s a list of plants that compliment the seasonal shrubs you’ve just added to your yard.

Most Read