Sports With the Most Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury requires immediate medical attention.

By Rocketclips at Shutterstock

Despite their prevalence, sports-related injuries rarely lead to fatalities. However, when such injuries do lead to death, the leading cause is a traumatic brain injury. In fact, around 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents are due to sports activities. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 446,788 sports-related head injuries occurred in the United States in 2009. That is an increase of nearly 100,000 since 2008. Today, the numbers are even higher. The types of sports vary, as do the level of injury. That does not lessen their impact in any way, though.

Sports Injuries

According to the statistics from research performed in 2009, there are 20 sports or recreational activities that contribute to traumatic brain injuries across the United States. Some of these sports are genuinely surprising. Let us take a look:

  • Cycling: 85,389
  • Football: 46,948
  • Baseball and Softball: 38,394
  • Basketball: 34,692
  • Water: 28,716
  • Powered Recreational: 26,606
  • Soccer: 24,184
  • Skateboards/Scooters: 23,114
  • Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 18,012
  • Winter Sports: 16,948
  • Horseback Riding: 14,466
  • Gymnastics/Dance/Cheerleading: 10,223
  • Golf: 10,035
  • Hockey: 8,145
  • Other Ball Sports and Balls, Unspecified: 6,883
  • Trampolines: 5,919
  • Rugby/Lacrosse: 5,794
  • Roller and Inline Skating: 3,320
  • Ice Skating: 4,608

It is incredibly surprising to learn that, despite what most people think, football is not the number one sports-related cause of traumatic brain injuries. The contact sport still leads to plenty of head injuries across the nation, however, cycling takes the number one spot. Far too many individuals do not wear their helmet while cycling, or they wear an improperly-sized helmet that could fall off during an accident. Either way, the situation leads to traumatic brain injuries quite often.

Levels of Sports-Related TBIs

Following any sort of head injury during sports or recreational activities, a thorough medical evaluation is required. During the evaluation, most injured patients will undergo a neurocognitive test before anything else. A baseline must be established for normal brain function, including tests of memory, attention, problem-solving, and other mental capabilities.

Furthermore, following such an injury, there is a grading system used to determine the severity of the traumatic brain injury. It is as follows:

  • Grade 1 – Mild physical trauma, such as a contusion or bump.
  • Grade 2 – Headaches, often migraine-like, with accompanying symptoms.
  • Grade 3 – Mild traumatic brain injury, often with a sudden change to mental capacity or consciousness.
  • Grade 4 – TBI with loss of consciousness for over 1 minute, amnesia for longer than 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours.
  • Grade 5 – Severe TBI, often life-threatening, with physical injuries, internal bleeding, increased intracranial pressure, loss of consciousness, amnesia lasting longer than 24 hours.

A traumatic brain injury, no matter the grade or severity, can be quite dangerous if not examined by a medical professional immediately. Please do not hesitate to seek out medical assistance. Either go to an emergency room or your family doctor, depending on the severity of the injury, quickly.

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