A new study out of the University of Washington in collaboration with the University of Colorado and the Seattle Children's Research Institute has found that sports or recreation-related concussions affect between 1.1 and 1.9 million children each year in the United States.
Published in The Journal of Pediatrics, the report states that of the nearly 2 million concussions suffered by children each year, close to half are never reported to a doctor and are left untreated. Concussions, which can result from any direct blow to the head or impact to the body strong enough to shake the brain inside the skull, can result in memory loss, difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, irritability, and in rare cases, severe swelling of the brain. These symptoms are even more likely to occur in individuals who have had several concussions or suffer a concussion without having fully recovered from a previous one, writes Robert Haggarty for The Inquisitr.
For the study, researchers looked at three separate sets of data from national databases stored from 2013 offering information that had been reported in various healthcare settings, including emergency rooms, inpatient and outpatient medical providers, and certified high school athletic trainers.
The findings suggest that between 511,590 and 1,240,972 sports- and recreation-related concussions (SRRCs) are left untreated in children under the age of 18 each year.
"The number of concussions that we've all been reporting is probably less than what it is in reality. There is an entire vulnerable population of kids that we're missing," said Dr. Alex Diamond, a specialist in sports medicine.
According to the CDC, 30% of all deaths in the United States are due to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). 138 people die each day as the result of complications from accidents like falls and blunt force trauma, adding that falling is the leading contributor to TBI.
The Centers Disease Control have introduced plans for a system that would monitor the rates of concussions in both children and adults, citing the high number of concussions that occur within the population. They added that a concussion is actually a minor form of a traumatic brain injury; concussions are only reported by emergency rooms and schools, not by primary care physicians, reports JoNel Aleccia for The Seattle Times.
"This new information gives us a frame of reference for how common concussions in kids are. It's important on a population level because so many kids and adolescents participate in sports and recreational activities," states Dr. Mersine Bryan, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children's Research Institute.
Dr. Steven Flanagan, chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and an expert in traumatic brain injuries, said more attention needs to be given to injuries that could result in a concussion, especially concerning the early identification of such impacts in children and teenagers. Flanagan said that such an injury can cause bruising of the brain and can even cause the nerve cells to twist or stretch, resulting in an injury.
He said that if a concussion is suspected, the child should be removed from the activity until an evaluation can take place in order to avoid "second impact syndrome," which occurs when a concussion happens before the body has recovered from the first concussion, reports Dr. Maryam Jahdi for ABC News.
Researchers stress the importance of seeking out medical attention with a call to a primary care physician for those who believe they may have suffered a concussion.