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Children's National Applauds IOM Report on Sports Concussions in Youth: It's Time for a Culture Change

Children's National Applauds IOM Report on Sports Concussions in Youth: It's Time for a Culture Change

Washington, DC--Children’s National Health System praised the new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Sports-Related Concussions in Youth, which urges a number of steps to fill existing knowledge gaps and to change the culture of youth sports regarding concussions. The report notes a rise in reported sports concussions in youth, perhaps due to greater awareness. It also notes the lack of comprehensive data on the incidence, diagnosis, management, and long-term health effects of sports-related concussions in youth.

The report was developed by an expert committee that  included Joseph Wright, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President of the The Child Health Advocacy Institute and an Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services physician at Children’s National.

The authors say they “came to have a growing appreciation for the role of ‘culture’ in the current recognition and management of concussions in young athletes”—one that “can cause athletes to feel that they should jeopardize their own individual health as a sign of commitment to their teams.”

Children’s National concussion and emergency medicine experts recommend that coaches, parents, young athletes, athletic associations, school nurses, and other medical professionals work together to improve recognition of concussions and to change the current culture of “playing through” a brain injury. They advise that children and teens take their time before returning to contact sports after a concussion.

The IOM report urges college and high school athletic associations to help address the cultural issues that actively or implicitly encourage young athletes to continue playing after a concussion.

“To ensure that athletes younger than high school age are protected, I would also encourage the National Governing Bodies of Youth Sports to take active steps to develop, implement, and evaluate efforts to increase knowledge about concussions and to help change the rules and culture of youth sports,” said Gerard Gioia, PhD, Neuropsychology Division Chief and Director of the Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program at Children’s National, who provided expert testimony to the IOM committee’s deliberations. “Taking brain injuries seriously in young athletes can help prevent more serious injuries or complications, so they can continue to participate in sports and to have long, healthy lives.”

The Children’s National SCORE Program provides extensive education and training to parents, coaches, schools, athletic organizations and healthcare providers to better recognize signs of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries, to coordinate and monitor treatment and to share safety information. The program offers smart phone apps to help youth coaches, parents, and healthcare professionals recognize and respond to concussions.

Contact: Emily Hartman or Caitlyn Camacho at 202-476-4500.