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Published on Mar 09, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Athletes Sent Back on the Field Too Soon After Concussions

young hockey players

Concussions, one of the most common sports-related injuries among young athletes, usually require an extended period of rest to ensure proper healing. However, many coaches return high-school athletes to the field within one day of receiving a concussion, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

While most concussions included in the study were mild, with symptoms disappearing within three days, researchers say that playing an athlete so soon is in direct violation of experts' recommendations. The consensus is that young athletes who sustain concussions should never return to play on the same day of the injury. Instead, they are supposed to be removed from competition and practice as soon as a concussion is suspected. They should not return until they are symptom-free at rest, have passed a baseline test, and have also passed a test indicating they are symptom-free after exertion.

The study evaluated the concussion rate of 20 different sports and concluded the following:

  • Almost 25 percent of young athletes who sustained a concussion during gameplay returned to practice within a day.
  • About 11 percent of athletes who suffered concussions have had one before.
  • Of the 20 sports evaluated in the study, football had the highest injury rate, accounting for 47 percent of all concussions. Girls' soccer was second, with 8.2 percent.
  • Football had the highest risk rate for concussions, followed by boys' ice hockey, boys' lacrosse, girls' lacrosse, and girls' soccer.
  • When it came to football-related concussions, linebackers and running backs were the players most likely to sustain one, but cornerbacks and defensive players had the highest proportion of total injuries.

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“Study: Concussed athletes return to play too soon.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 5, 2012.
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