Local Highlight: Reported Kids Concussions on the Rise

Concussions are a form of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and are on the rise in Minnesotan children. Symptoms can range from mild (e.g. headaches) to severe (e.g. mood changes, blurry vision, slowness in acting) and may not appear until days or weeks after an injury.

The Star Tribune reports that from 2000 to 2008, the number of children treated for concussions in Minnesota hospitals had increased by 75%. Although most of the injuries were in adolescent boys (ages 15-19), the number of concussions in younger children has sharply increased. Football, hockey, and soccer are the top 3 sports most treated for concussions. These research results come from Minnesota Department of Health Injury and Violence Department epidemiologist, Dr. Leslie Seymour.

An issue to consider with rate changes is whether the actual number of concussions has risen, or the number of children getting treatment has risen. A law (MN Chapter 90) enacted at the start of the school year aims to improve awareness among coaches, parents, and players. Information will reflect the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines and ‘Heads Up’ training.

Dr. Seymour recently received a federal grant to explore the effect of Minnesota’s and various states’ concussion laws. Other possible explanations may be an increase in organized sports involvement or more violent, stronger competition. What are your thoughts on this rise in concussions? Are there any other explanations? What about kids’ participation in extreme sports? Are there disparities between populations?