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ER visits for sports-related brain injuries have fallen by 32% in the past decade as fewer children play football

ER visits for sports-related brain injuries fell by 32% in the past decade as fewer children played football, the CDC report finds

  • Researchers at the CDC looked at sports-related ER visits for children under the age of 17 between 2001 and 2019
  • After a decade of rising numbers, visits to traumatic brain injuries decreased by 32% from 2012 to 2018
  • Football program attendance has decreased by a total of 24% since 2010, with a 12% decrease between 2016 and 2017 alone
  • A number of changes have also been made to make the sport safer for children, including an approach technique to reduce blows to the head

The number of American children who visit the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries has declined because fewer children play football, a new report shows.

Visits to ERs for head-related sports hits have declined by a third over the past decade, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Thursday.

This is after the previous decade, the nineties, saw a 112 percent increase in visits.

The team says the decline is due to a sharp drop in the number of children participating in contact sports programs, particularly soccer, which have been shown to increase the risk of dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurological condition that is accompanied by repeated head trauma.

Researchers at the CDC looked at sports-related ER visits for children under 17 between 2001 and 2019 (file image)

Researchers at the CDC looked at sports-related ER visits for children under 17 between 2001 and 2019 (file image)

After a decade of rising numbers, the number of visits for traumatic brain injuries decreased by 32% from 2012 to 2018 (above)

After a decade of rising numbers, the number of visits for traumatic brain injuries decreased by 32% from 2012 to 2018 (above)

After a decade of rising numbers, the number of visits for traumatic brain injuries decreased by 32% from 2012 to 2018 (above)

For the report, researchers analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program between 2001 and 2018.

During this period, 3.8 million traumatic brain injury (TBI) visits were made to children under 17 years of age.

After a decade of rising rates, visits for TBIs fell 32 percent between 2012 and 2018.

From 2010 to 2016, there were an average of 283,000 ER visits per year for U.S. children with sports or recreation-related (SRR) TBIs.

About 45 percent came from contact sports, and about 25 percent were specifically from soccer.

Overall, there was a 39 percent drop in football-related TBIs from 2013 to 2018.

The team says this is likely due to a drop in the number of children participating in organized football programs, although it is still one of the most popular childhood sports.

Researchers found a 39% drop in football-related TBIs between 2013 and 2018 (above) because fewer children played the sport

Researchers found a 39% drop in football-related TBIs between 2013 and 2018 (above) because fewer children played the sport

Researchers found a 39% drop in football-related TBIs between 2013 and 2018 (above) because fewer children played the sport

Participation has fallen by 24 percent since 2010, with a 12 percent drop only between 2016 and 2017.

Safety guidelines and restrictions have also reduced the risk of concussion and other brain injuries in children.

For example, in 2012, the National Federation of State High School Associations issued guidelines for the amount and frequency of full-contact exercises that can take place during workouts.

Tackelen accounts for two-thirds of all concussions and other brain injuries among high school footballers.

However, techniques that teach players not to aim for the head reduce concussion risk by up to 33 percent, the report said.

The researchers note that the study has limitations, such as only looking at rates for children who went to the ER, while many are not seeking medical treatment for brain injuries.

“Children who participate in SRR activities are at risk for TBI,” the authors wrote.

“Therefore, more efforts to identify effective SRR-TBI prevention strategies will help keep children healthy and active.”

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