Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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IL concussion diagnoses up over 5 years


The percentage of Illinois children diagnosed with concussions climbed by a whopping 83 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to new data released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Per 1,000 Blue Cross members ages 10 to 19 in Illinois:

  • 7.6 were diagnosed with a concussion in 2010
  • 14 were diagnosed with a concussion in 2015

Not all of these concussions were suffered as a result of a sports-related injury, but there’s little schools can do about injuries that don’t occur in school-sponsored activities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published guidelines for traumatic brain injury, including guidelines for returning to school and returning to sports and other activities after suffering a concussion.

“The general public is just much more aware of this injury, how it happens, what are the signs and symptoms, and that it’s very important to get it checked out by a physician before you resume physical activities such as contact sports that might result in another hit to the head,” the Tribune quoted Cynthia LaBella, the medical director at the Institute for Sports Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital, as saying. If a second blow to the head occurs before the brain fully recovers from a TBI, the risk of long-term problems goes up, she said.

Concussions are “low velocity injuries that cause brain ‘shaking’ resulting in clinical symptoms and that are not necessarily related to a pathological injury,” according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, citing the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, Switzerland in 2012. A second blow to the head can result in near-sudden death for football players, which is what appears to have happened to Bear River High School player Toran Maronic a month ago, according to a report in US News &amp World Report.

It’s ultimately good that teams, coaches, schools, parents, and students are paying more attention to the signs and symptoms of concussion. “Second-impact syndrome” and its signature swelling of the brain basically block the brain’s plumbing. This results in a malfunction and, after enough blood and fluid back up, in a complete rupture and death.

“We couldn’t lose another year—another year of watching these reports and realizing that we’re burying these boys without exactly knowing what killed them,” the magazine quoted Terry O’Neil, who worked as an executive for ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” CBS Sports, and NBC Sports, and now works for a program called “Practice Like Pros,” which is devoted to eliminating the occurrences of brain injury at school football practices.

Data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research show that the number of middle and high school football players who suffer brain injury is small—and the number who die from those injuries miniscule—at least compared to the number of students who play on school football teams. Yet the report shows that at least one has died each year from football-related injuries, about one-third of which involved impact injuries.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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