The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just issued a study entitled “Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries Related to Sports and Recreation Activities Among Persons Aged ≤19 Years — United States, 2001–2009.” See http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6039a1.htm?s_cid=mm6039a1_w.
CDC found that in the last decade emergency room visits for concussions and their cousin injuries, for those of teen age or younger, increased 62 percent — from 153,375 to 248,418. “For persons aged 10-19 years, males sustained TBIs most often while playing football or bicycling, whereas females sustained TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball, or while bicycling.” The report excludes deaths.
Here’s how CDC sums up under the heading “What are the implications for public health practice?”:
To minimize TBI in sports and recreation activities, prevention strategies should be implemented, including practicing skills, strength and conditioning, and sportsmanship, and using protective equipment (e.g., bicycle helmets). Secondary strategies include knowing the signs and symptoms of TBI, responding to suspected TBI appropriately, and permitting return to activity only after evaluation and clearance by an experienced health-care provider.
I would add a “tertiary strategy”: removing costly public funding and open-ended medical, legal, and unwinnable safety burdens from the public education system. It’s time to “privatize” football-induced disability and death.