Are student athletes more likely to suffer a serious head injury today as compared to in the past? A recent report from the University of North Carolina’s National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research has found that that may very well be the case. In 2011, thirteen children from around the country suffered catastrophic brain injuries while playing football – more than any other year since records started in 1984. Safety experts and medical professionals worry that these numbers will only increase unless something is done to change the sport and change the current response to head injuries in student athletes.
In the last 20 years, the United States has consistently recorded fewer than ten catastrophic traumatic head injuries in high school football players. However, in 2008 and 2009, ten injuries were reported each year. Finally, in 2011, 13 injuries were recorded, signaling a significant increase and a call for change.
Why is the number of catastrophic head injuries in high school football on the rise? Experts say that the style of play has changed in recent year, putting kids’ heads at risk – especially those that play certain positions. At the same time, over the years, kids have been getting bigger and stronger due to better health and nutrition – and there is more force behind their blows.
According to the Brain Injury Resource Center, an estimated 300,000 traumatic head injuries occur each year as a result of playing sports – mostly concussions. TBI is also the leading cause of sports-related death in the United States.