Our children play a myriad of sports where physical contact is inevitable. Even with protective headgear, it is possible for head impact to result in concussion. Here are some head injury statistics for some more popular youth sports activities.
Football Head Injuries
Football is all about Friday night lights and cheering for our team. We can easily find concussion statistics on high school, collegiate and professional football, but more recently, the focus has been on younger players. Children between 9 and 14 years old are the largest group of football players. It’s important to know how head injuries can affect bodies that are still growing.
Science Daily reports, “data allowed the researchers to develop a mathematical relationship between the magnitude of a head impact and the risk of concussion. What they found was that youth players are on average more susceptible to concussion at lower levels of acceleration than high school and collegiate players are.” (Science Daily 2020)
Basketball Head Injuries
Parents think of head injuries as less frequent for basketball athletes. It’s not quite a contact sport, but contact happens. It’s statistically the most popular youth sport with over 11 million players. Basketball accounted for more than 9 percent of athletic concussions among 8-to 19-year-olds, placing it second among youth sports, behind only football. Headfirst injuries with the court are more common than physical contact injuries. (Parker-Pope 2010)
Baseball and Softball Head Injuries
Despite lower rates of traumatic brain injuries in baseball and softball, there is poor compliance overall with helmet use and return-to-play. The review, published in Frontiers in Neurology, examined 29 studies that collectively identified 242,731 baseball-and-softball related traumatic brain injuries sustained between 1982 and 2015. (Frontiers 2017)
They key to lessening head injuries in baseball and softball is simply to wear a helmet. Children ages 5-9 were more likely to be hit by the bat and children between ages 10-19 were more likely to be hit by the ball. Parents and coaches have a responsibility of making sure proper helmet use is part of the game.
Soccer Head Injuries
Soccer is the only contact sport that purposefully uses the head for controlling and advancing the ball and heading is essential to the defensive and offensive strategies of the game.
The most common injuries in soccer are head-to-head injuries or head with another body part. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that injuries occurred directly with ball contact.
What Exactly is a Concussion?
Although there is not a single definition of concussion, it is commonly described as a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain. It is also commonly called a mild traumatic brain injury. (BrainLine 2019)
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Usually, signs and symptoms show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. These could be signs of a serious concussion and a visit to the ER is an important protocol, especially if the patient is a child under the age of 15.
Any person who suffers a head injury followed by one or more of these serious symptoms should be evaluated immediately in an ER:
• One pupil is larger than the other.
• Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
• A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
• Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
• Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching).
• Unusual behavior increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
• Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.
(Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic, 2020)
Prior Head Injury Patients
Athletes are more likely to get a concussion if they’ve had one before. Preventing concussions is very important, especially after a prior head injury.
Whether it’s the first time or a secondary injury, never ignore symptoms or try to “tough it out.” Stop the sport or activity and get medical care right away. (The Nemours Foundation, 2019)
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be simple: you can never be too careful with head injuries. When in doubt, visit the nearest ER as soon as possible.
“Concussion Risk in Youth Football.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 21 Jan. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200121133259.htm.
“Review Finds Poor Compliance with Helmet Use in Baseball and Softball.” Frontiers, 8 Nov. 2017, blog.frontiersin.org/2017/11/07/brain-injury-baseball-softball-frontiers-in-neurology/.
Parker-pope, Tara. “In Basketball, Danger of Head Trauma.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Sept. 2010, well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/13/in-basketball-danger-of-head-trauma/.
Medical College. “Head Injuries, Heading, and the Use of Headgear in Soccer : Current Sports Medicine Reports.” LWW, journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2011/11000/head_injuries,_heading,_and_the_use_of_headgear_in.7.aspx.
“What To Do If You Think You Have Had a Concussion?” BrainLine, 30 Apr. 2019,
“Should I Go to the Emergency Room for a Head Injury?” Should I Go to the Emergency Room for a Head Injury? | Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic,
“Concussions (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Rochelle E. Haas, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Feb. 2019, kidshealth.org/en/teens/concussions.html