Youth basketball concussion injuries are on the rise



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Posted on November 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 20 at 2:22 PM

Basketball is one of the most popular youth sports in the United States. But along with the benefits come plenty of injuries.

The first national study of basketball related injuries was conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio. It appeared in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers found an average of 375 thousand players a year went to emergency departments across the country with everything from sprains, to strains, to fractures. And while the rate of those injuries is going down, the number of concussions rose a dramatic 70 percent.

Seventeen-year-old Bailey Breese knows about the brain injury firsthand. It's happened to her twice.

"I was looking up the court and I was looking to pass the ball, and some girl sandwiched me and I just flipped and landed on the back of my head," Breese said.

Seattle Children's neurosurgeon Dr. Rich Ellenbogen said people think of football and soccer players when they think of concussions. But they can happen in all sports, and they're becoming more recognized.

"Ninety percent of all concussions, you're not knocked out. So you might have a headache, be confused, not sure what the last play was, have some decline in your ability to do your schoolwork, trouble sleeping," he said.

Dr. Ellenbogen is also Professor and Chairman of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington. He wasn't surprised by something else the researchers found. More girls than boys sustained concussions.

"Girls have a significantly high concussion rate, which is often under-recognized. And they take a little longer to get better. We don't know why that is," he said.

Dr. Ellenbogen said concussions take time to heal. But healing is crucial, in order to protect a young athlete from lifelong health consequences.

"Clearly the best advice is, when in doubt, sit them out, and then wait for them to recover, fully recover, and then you slowly get them back to play." he said.


There's something else parents need to know. In Washington State a player who has a concussion needs to be cleared by a health professional before getting back in the game.

More information

CDC concussion information

Zachery Lystedt Law