The most comprehensive study to date on youth concussions will take place right here in our own backyard.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL), the state’s governing body for public high school sports, is joining forces with the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center to track brain injuries among young athletes. This will be the nation’s largest efforts so far to examine the effects that concussions have on kids.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that up to 3.8 million concussions occur annually from sports and other recreational activities. However, reporting on concussions hasn’t been consistent, as a large number of brain injuries go unnoticed because symptoms are mild or moderate.
Youth sports are an incredibly popular pastime in Texas, and so this study could not be performed in a more perfect environment. Our hope is that the research sets a precedent for other states in properly tracking and treating youth concussions, and ensuring that no player sets foot on the field before having ample time to heal.
All states have passed laws and regulations in recent years to monitor youth sports, ultimately making sure they report all concussions suffered and adhere to set standards for when it’s okay to return to play.
Texas boasts more than 800,000 public high school athletes, and the way we respond to and treat concussions could be instrumental in developing a permanent protocol for other states to follow.
The study will track about two dozen sports, including football and girls’ soccer (two of the most common sports to generate concussions), and will record what caused the injury as well as recovery time. A national database for youth brain injuries will also be developed alongside the study.
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