White House holds youth sports injury conference

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

youth concussion
It’s not just adult NFL players that are at risk of getting concussions – kids are just as vulnerable.

Every year, about 250,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room because of concussions – brain damage caused by either a direct whack to the head or a body impact so strong it shakes the brain. To address this national issue, the White House held the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit on Thursday.

At the conference, over 200 professionals put their noggins together to come up with solutions. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and the USA’s military defense department discussed youth concussions with government officials, medical experts, and numerous professional athletes.

A concussion is a head injury that alters brain function, with minor symptoms like light headaches, ringing in the ears, or dizziness. More serious symptoms involve loss of consciousness, slurred speech, memory issues, and the inability to focus. These problems can last a week, months, or even a lifetime! Though anyone can suffer from a concussion by tripping, falling, or running into a pole, athletes that participate in contact sports are especially at risk. According to a recent study, kids 6-18 years old who play football can suffer dozens of head-jarring impacts over the course of a season, 2-3 of which can become concussions.

So, what kind of solutions did the White House come up with at the event? One of their plans include creating a concussion database program at the University of California, Los Angeles, along with a research prevention program that would track tons of information to prevent injury. Also, a partnership with the Department of Defense and the National Collegiate Athletic Association will fund one of the largest concussion studies of college athletes. Lastly, the National Football League will team up with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to get more athletic trainers in high school sports programs, so that kids learn to play safely.

President Barack Obama stated that once the public becomes more aware of how serious concussions are, society will lose its harmful “walk it off” attitude towards injuries.

Featured image courtesy of Brian J. McDermott on Flickr. Image of young football player courtesy of USCPSC on Flickr.