Over the past few years, every state in America has adopted concussion regulations for young athletes – the vast majority of which require players to be removed from play when suspected of being injured. Despite these rules, a new study shows that more than a third of young athletes who experience a concussion return to the field the same day.
For the study, a team of researchers examined 185 young athletes receiving treatment for a concussion at a Texas pediatric sports clinic in 2014. All athletes included in the study were between the ages of 7 and 18. Of those athletes, almost half (47%) experienced a concussion while playing soccer, while 16% suffered a brain injury playing soccer.
According to the results of the study, 71 of the athletes (38%) returned to competition on the same day they were injured.
While these athletes who returned to play say they experienced less severe symptoms of dizziness and balance issues immediately after their injury, they were more likely to report more severe nausea, dizziness, balance problems, light sensitivity, pressure in the head, confusion, and concentration problems by the time they sought treatment.
The findings of the study were presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) annual meeting, in San Francisco.
“Our findings suggest that we still have work to do to change behaviors to protect short- and long-term brain health of youth athletes,” study author Meagan Sabatino, a senior clinical research coordinator at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Plano, said in an AAP news release.
“We need to emphasize the message: ‘When in doubt, sit them out — and keep them out — until full recovery,’ ” said study author Dr. Shane Miller, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at the hospital.