October 6th, 2011
07:13 PM ET
Emergency room visits are on the rise for kids with sports and recreation-related brain injuries, a CDC report said Thursday.
According to the study, almost 250,000 children were taken to the ER with concussions and other brain injuries in 2009, up from just 150,000 in 2002.
Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a pediatrician at the CDC, and lead author of the study says she believes the numbers are up because parents and coaches are better educated.
"Because of the increased awareness of concussions, we hope more people are seeking treatment and evaluation of traumatic brain injury," she said.
Early detection and treatment, she says, are the key to preventing serious complications.
"First is recognizing there may be a brain injury, and pulling that child out of play," she says. "Then they need to be evaluated by a medical provider that's trained in diagnosis and management of concussions."
Signs that a coach or a parent might see:
"The child might appear dazed or stunned, confused or forgetful," Gilchrist says. "You might also see behavioral changes, and if they've lost consciousness at all, that's a troubling sign."
Gilchrist says the player himself may complain about headaches or pressure in the head, nausea and vomiting, balance problems, sensitivity to light, difficulty paying attention, or even a general sense of things not being quite right.
According to the study, the most common sports where kids got head injuries were football and cycling for boys; and cycling, basketball and soccer in girls. The group where most of the injuries were seen – males, ages 10 -19.
But Gilchrist says, the increased number of head injuries in children should not dissuade parents from keeping their kids active.
"We don't want this study to make parents fearful and pull their kids out of sports," she says. "What we do want is to get people to be aware of the signs and symptoms and pull their kids out if they start to see them"
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