JESSICA KOURKOUNIS : For the Chronicle
Just came back from a lecture at the hospital entitled "Management of Neurosurgical Problems in Contact Sports". The presenter was a neurosurgeon affiliated with high school and college teams, as well as the NBA team in his state.
The first part of his lecture was on concussions in team sports and he noted how common it is in sports such as football, hockey, and soccer.
I was surprised that he didn't mention basketball.
As we've seen in recent studies, concussion, though not nearly as common as ankle and knee injuries, has become an important basketball-related injury.
Whether it's taking an elbow to the face, banging noggins while going for a loose ball, or hitting your head on the floor or against a basketball support, high school and college basketball players (more often girls than boys) sustain concussions.
While they may not require a hospital admission, concussions can cause long-term problems like headaches, dizziness, sleep problems, behavior changes, memory difficulties, learning disabilities, and more.
So what's a coach to do? As players get larger and the game gets more physical, we're going to see more head injuries, including concussions.
Go to helmets? Nope.
Wear mouthguards? Nope. (while mouthguards SHOULD be worn to prevent tooth and mouth injuries, there's no conclusive evidence that shows they prevent brain injuries).
The first step is to recognize that concussions DO occur in basketball and CAN cause problems if players are not identified and given help to recover.
In my future posts about this topic, I'll cover pre-season testing, on the court management, and how to know when an athlete is ready to return to play.
For a good overview about concussions in youth sports, take a look at this .