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Head Trauma in Basketball On the Rise
Posted By: ASA News
Posted On: 9/14/2010
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The growing concern about head trauma injuries in football players has been well documented recently. But a study released this week revealed head trauma also is an issue in a sport many would never suspect: Basketball.

Nearly 400,000 boys and girls basketball players make trips to the emergency room every year for head trauma, according to a study released by Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio. It is an increase of nearly 70 percent - and comes at a time when the overall number of visits is down.

Perhaps more alarming, head trauma was more common in children 5-10 than 11-19. And girls were more likely to suffer head trauma than boys.

The study, which will appear in the October issue of Pediatrics, was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the hospital. It followed injuries from 1997-2007.

Overall, the number of injuries treated in emergency rooms - four million over the course of the study - is going down, from 404,313 in 1997 to 316,081 in 2007. And the study showed lower body sprains and strains are still the greatest cause for trips to the emergency room.

Dr. Lara McKenzie, a co-author of the report, said the study should be a caution.

"We want to encourage kids to keep playing basketball because it's a fun sport and good (exercise), but there were more than 4 million ER visits [from 1997 to 2007], those numbers are still quite high and there's more we can do to make those number smaller," she said.

Among other findings in the study, according to this report by WebMD:

* Lower extremity injuries accounted for 42 percent of the total, followed by 37.2 percent to upper extremities, and 16.4 percent to the head;

* Boys accounted for more than 74 percent of the injuries;

* Injury rates were highest among 13-year-old girls and 15-year-old boys;

* Fractures and dislocations accounted for 57 percent of hospital admissions; traumatic brain injuries accounted for 14 percent;

* Boys were more likely to require hospitalization;

But if overall visits are down, why are visits for head trauma up?

Dr. Marci Goolsby, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, told ABC news that overall awareness of head trauma issues may be one reason for the spike in visits.

"Basketball has become more of an aggressive sport, but not necessarily more dangerous. In general, the public is becoming more aware of traumatic brain injuries and there's an interest in getting them evaluated sooner," she said.

Simply put, parents aren't waiting for a trip to the family doctor, they are going to the ER as soon as the injury happens.

McKenzie, however, cautions the number of visits for traumatic brain injuries may not be as high as it should be.

"Many athletes do not recognize the symptoms of concussions or do not report them to coaches and trainers," she said. "Educating athletes, coaches and parents to recognize and report on suspected concussions is vital to managing them effectively and helping to prevent future injuries."

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