Youth sports and child health: A guide to understanding sports-related concussions and ways to promote safer play
Lucier-Greer, M., O’Neal, C.W., Quichocho, D., & Burke, B. (2018). Youth sports and child health: A guide to understanding sports-related concussions and ways to promote safer play. Auburn, AL: Military REACH.
Abstract Created by REACH:
Youth sports programs promote physical, social, mental, and emotional development because they provide participants the opportunity to exercise, engage in teamwork, relieve stress, and learn to persevere when faced with challenging situations. The Office of Military Family Readiness Policy requested that the Military REACH team provide a comprehensive review of the literature regarding concussions in youth sports, because the safety of young athletes is of primary importance. This report begins by defining concussions in youth sports, which are referred to as sports-related concussions (SRCs) within the academic literature. Information about the prevalence, symptomology, impact, and risk factors of SRCs is provided, followed by a discussion on how policy can positively impact SRC rates. This report ends with a series of actionable strategies, rooted in policy and currently available tools.
Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Preschool age (2 -5 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Review of Literature
Lucier-Greer, Mallory, O'Neal, Catherine Walker, Quichocho, Davina, Burke, Benjamin
The Office of Military Family Readiness Policy requested a comprehensive review of the literature regarding concussions in youth sports as a means to inform policy and encourage best practices concerning the safety of young athletes. First, this report begins by defining concussions in youth sports, which are referred to as sports-related concussions (SRCs) within the academic literature, and then information is presented about the prevalence, symptomology, impact, and risk factors of SRCs. SRCs occur when an athlete experiences a sudden, forceful movement that causes the brain to twist or move rapidly into the skull; the collision of the brain into the skull can stretch, tear, or damage the brain’s nerve cells and disturb the chemical balance within the brain. This disturbance has the potential to impair the brain’s ability to accomplish essential tasks. Current estimates suggest that 1.1 to 1.9 million SRCs occur annually among youth. Next, a discussion is presented on how legislation and policies have positively influenced the health of young athletes and resulted in a significant decline in SRC rates. As of 2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws addressing concussions in youth sports, the majority of which are modeled after the Lystedt Law to include three core components: - Annual education for coaches, parents, and athletes regarding SRC symptomology - Removal from play guidelines following an SRC or suspected SRC - Return-to-play protocols that often include clearance from a licensed healthcare professional In this section, multiple research-based training opportunities and tools are provided to educate coaches, parents, athletes, and healthcare professionals on preventing, recognizing, and managing concussions. These resources are widely available and are derived from highly reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention, the National Alliance for Youth Sports, USA Football, the Institute of Medicine-National Research Council’s Committee on Sports-Related Concussions in Youth, and the International Conference on Concussion in Sport. Finally, this report concludes with a series of actionable strategies rooted in policy and currently available tools.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, MLG
Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia, CWO
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, DQ
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, BB
Child health, sports-related concussions, SRC, Symptomology, Risk factors
REACH Publication Type:
This product was developed as a result of a partnership funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) between the DoD’s Office of Military Family Readiness Policy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) through a grant/cooperative agreement with Auburn University. USDA/NIFA Award No. 2017-48710-27339, Principal Investigator, Mallory Lucier-Greer.