HEADS UP program raises awareness

About Student Athletes and Concussion

School sports encourage teamwork, build lasting friendships and create wonderful memories. They also can cause various degrees of injury, concussions being among the most dangerous.

The CDC’s HEADS Up program offers specific guidelines to coaches and parents for helping prevent traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussions, in student athletes. The program also provides fact sheets for young athletes with clear concise information defining what a concussion is, what are signs of a concussion, and why students should report their symptoms rather than attempt to “play through” them.

Did you know:

It’s estimated that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur in the USA per year during competitive sports and recreational activities; however, as many as 50% of the concussions may go unreported.

Sports and recreation-related concussions are a leading cause of TBI-related emergency department visits among children and teens.

Children and teens make up approximately 70% of all sports- and recreation-related concussion seen in the emergency department.

Organized sports where most student injuries include football, baseball and softball, basketball and soccer. Lacrosse is also being increasingly identified as a sport associated with a high risk of TBI or concussion.

What exactly is a concussion? The CDC defines it as a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. If not treated properly, and depending on the injury’s severity, a concussion can have a lasting affect on a young person’s brain and continued neurological development.

What can you do to prepare your student athlete for team sports? Make sure they wear the proper helmet for their particular sport. Helmets should be:

Well maintained

Age appropriate

Worn consistently and correctly

Appropriately certified for use

Even with a helmet, it is important for your child or teen to avoid hits to the head.

For more information about concussions, sport-specific helmets, and the HEADS UP program, go to www.cdc.gov/headsup.