By: Megan Glasmann, M.Ed. and Janiece Pompa, Ph.D.
In the United States, 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions annually occur across all age groups, with still more occurring outside of the sports arena (Langlois et al., 2005). Among children and adolescents, close to 175,000 sports- and recreationally-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, were treated annually, as reported in 2011 by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC (Gilchrist et al., 2011). Since then, this incidence has increased by an estimated 15% each year (Lincoln et al., 2011), with a 60% increase in the number of concussions diagnosed across all age groups between 2007-2014 (Zhang, Sing, Rugg, Feeley, & Senter, 2016). Individuals aged 10-19 years accounted for 32% of diagnosed concussions in this seven-year time period, with the highest incidence of concussion (1.65%) among individuals aged 15-19 years (Zhang et al., 2016). Although efforts have been made to research the management of concussion, little to no evidence exists at present to guide the rehabilitation of children under the age of 12 who sustain concussion injuries. Currently, practitioners and researchers are advised to use the same principles of adult concussion management for children and adolescents, and to maintain these principles when treating patients with concussion or head injury caused by mechanisms other than sport- or recreation-related trauma (Meehan & O'Brien, 2017).
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