When all the focus is on professional adult athletes, it can be easy to forget that concussions are an issue affecting people of all types. Sports may put you at increased risk for a head injury, but any person can experience a concussion from a wide variety of incidents, including falls, vehicle accidents, and assault. Most importantly, these types of injuries can occur at any age.
Now, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows exactly how likely younger individuals are to experience head injuries.
According to data released today, approximately 7% of all children between 3- and 17-years-old have experienced a head injury.
Boys were slightly more likely to have experienced a significant head injury (8% to 6% respectively), and the risk tended to increase as children aged. By 15- to 17-years-old, the risk had increased to almost 12%.
This “suggests that as more children and teens engage in sports and other activities, the risk for a head injury also goes up,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.
The upside to this news is that the majority of these head injuries are “mild” concussions which tend to improve within two weeks. However, there is some evidence that even these relatively non-serious head injuries can have lasting effects.
While Glatter agrees most head injuries in children are the result of sports, he notes that an increasing number of concussions are being caused by distracted walking.
“Kids just aren’t paying attention to what’s in front of them,” he said. “They’re looking at their phones and walking into light poles, windows and doorways.”
Glatter also cautions that these statistics may not be indicative of the overall risk for future brain trauma, noting recent research showing repeated non-concussive head impacts may be associated with the later development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“You don’t have to have a concussion to cause damage,” he said.