March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and this year the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is calling attention to concussions, which are often overlooked, ignored, or not taken seriously. To help boost awareness of concussions and the threats they pose, especially to children and adolescents, the BIAA is launching a year-long education and advocacy campaign called under the banner “A concussion is a brain injury. Get the facts.”
The campaign, which launches this month, will be coordinated through the BIAA’s 44 chartered state affiliate groups. The organization plans a spectrum of public service announcements and awareness proclamations, which will appear in print and on the radio throughout the country. A number of special events will also take place throughout the year.
BIAA will also begin actively advocating for legislation designed to teach athletic coaches about the seriousness of concussions and train them on how to prevent, recognize, and handle concussions when they do occur. The organization believes that “coaches of every school athletic team and every extracurricular athletic activity” should know about brain injury, including concussions and second impact syndrome.
“BIAA also believes young athletes who appear to have sustained a concussion should have written authorization by a health care professional before returning to play, “ the organization’s website says.
Concussions are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a blow to another part of the body that has an indirect impact on the head. Because concussions can occur without a loss of consciousness, they are often underestimated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussions that are not properly diagnosed or managed may lead to serious complications including coma and death.
The signs and symptoms of coma include nausea, dizziness, lack of balance, double or fuzzy vision, sensitivity to light or noise, headache, sluggishness, fatigue, feeling foggy or groggy, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. These signs may appear immediately after the concussion occurs or they can take days or weeks to become noticeable.
In the U.S., 3.8 million concussions occur each year as a result of sports and recreation activities. Emergency room physicians treat approximately 135,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions, in children ages 5 to 18 every year.
- A concussion is the most common type of brain injury sustained in sports.
- Most concussions do NOT involve loss of consciousness.
- You can sustain a concussion even if you do NOT hit your head. An indirect blow elsewhere on the body can transmit an “impulsive” force to the head and cause a concussion to the brain.
- Multiple concussions can have cumulative and long lasting life changes.
- Concussions typically do NOT appear in neuroimaging studies such as MRI or CAT Scans.
- An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.
- During 2001-2005, children and youth ages 5–18 years accounted for 2.4 million sports-related emergency department (ED)
visits annually, of which 6% (135,000) involved a concussion.
- Of the 1.4 million traumatic brain injuries sustained by children and adults in the United States each year, at least 75% are mild and/or concussions.
- Among children and youth ages 5–18 years, the five leading sports or recreational activities, which account for concussions, include bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer.