Why do 20 percent of teens say they’ve had a concussion?


A new study in the Journal of American Medical Association from the University of Michigan asked students in grades eighth, ninth and 10th if they had ever had a concussion. Almost 20 percent said they had.

What’s going on with our teens? Is it all sports-related?

Dr. Robert Vezzetti, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Dell Children’s Medical Center, says part of what’s going on is that we’re doing a better job of educating parents, coaches and students about what a concussion is, leading to more diagnoses.

A concussion is basically “taking your brain and shaking it,” he says. That releases inflammatory particles that damage the brain. You might feel nausea or vomit, have a headache, have blurry vision, feel achy or fatigued.

Many people think that if you have a concussion you would pass out. That’s not the case with all concussions, he says.

You also don’t have to have one large hit. It could be a series of hits.

Concussions also don’t only happen to football players on the field. Girls in sports actually have higher rates of concussions, and their concussion symptoms last longer.

Vezzetti also sees plenty of kids come in with concussions that had nothing to do with playing sports. It depends on the time of the year. Yes, in August and September, he might see more kids with sports-related concussions, but in other times of the year it could be hitting your head while diving into a pool, falling from a playground or from a car accident.

“You can get a concussion just by falling down or running into a door,” he says.

If you think your young football player is safe because he has a helmet, know this: A helmet doesn’t protect from concussion. It can prevent a skull fracture or a bleed in the brain, but a concussion is about the movement of the brain within the skull. A helmet can’t protect against that.

Vezzetti does have these recommendations to limit your concussion risk:

  • Practice good hydration and nutrition and good conditioning.
  • In football, hit with the shoulders, not with the head and neck.
  • Be mindful what’s around you; know where the baseball is before it hits you.
  • If you’re having symptoms, tell someone, and don’t go back in and play.
  • It’s also a good idea to use safety equipment such as mats and spotters in wrestling, gymnastics and cheerleading.
  • For younger kids, be a spotter on the playground and don’t allow them to climb up too high.

Once a child has a concussion, he or she should avoid physical activity, limit screen time and be allowed extra time to do homework.

Some kids will be better within days, others take weeks, he says. Dell Children’s has a concussion clinic to help them return to activity.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

Where are they now? Deloris Fields
Where are they now? Deloris Fields

Deloris Fields, 27, and her son, Connor, 1, have been able to move into a first-floor apartment in Taylor this year. Fields has stage four breast cancer which has been in her bones. She needed the first-floor apartment to make it easier on her. Deloris Fields has her makeup applied by artist Kewal Hausmann in preparation for the 2017 Art...
Best way to see the Trail of Lights? By running through it!
Best way to see the Trail of Lights? By running through it!

Light tunnels dazzle visitors at the 2015 Trail of Lights. MARY HUBER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN   We know – it’s only Thanksgiving. But Austin’s beloved Trail of Lights opens soon, and you can get a sneak peak if you lace up your running shoes for the Trial of Lights fun run. You won’t even have to...
Wittliff exhibit gives Tejano music legends their due
Wittliff exhibit gives Tejano music legends their due

From shattering glass ceilings to creating anthems for the Chicano movement, the legends of Tejano music have helped lift not just Texas but American music. Oftentimes, though, recognition of their contributions to our nation’s soundtrack is overlooked. “I think (record companies) had a hard time knowing where to put us because we were...
How much will you have to exercise to burn off that turkey dinner?
How much will you have to exercise to burn off that turkey dinner?

Plan on a lot of exercise if you hope to burn off that Thanksgiving meal. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)   How many burpees does it take to burn off a dollop of gravy? How far must you run to negate a slice of holiday pie? The Daily Burn tallied the caloric cost of a Thanksgiving feast, and the results might make you second guess that...
6 easy side dishes anyone can make for Thanksgiving Day
6 easy side dishes anyone can make for Thanksgiving Day

Although the turkey will surely take center stage at your Thanksgiving table, a few unforgettable side dishes can't hurt. These simple Thanksgiving sides won't take very much time or effort to pull together, but look (and taste) like a million bucks. This Thanksgiving Day, give your family a feast they won't forget by including a few of these easy-to-make...
More Stories