Individuals who have experienced a concussion may be at risk for poor mental health outcomes. Breaking research found that children and teenagers who suffered a past concussion were 40% more likely to develop a mental health condition when compared to their peers who had not sustained a concussion. With that, nearly 1 in 20 youth athletes under age 14 sustain a concussion each season. These alarming statistics beg the question, how can we better support youth mental health following a concussion? As parents, coaches, and trainers, the onus is on us to be properly educated and to commit to reporting head injuries. We can start by understanding the emotional and psychological indications of concussions.
It’s important to be aware that concussions affect more than just physical health. Immediate concussion symptoms on physical health include; nausea, dizziness, confusion or headaches. Symptoms of post concussion effects on mental health include; mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and suicidal ideations. These symptoms can affect athletes up to six months post concussion. In addition to recognizing these outcomes, parents, coaches and trainers can go one step further and understand the benefits of reporting head injuries. By reporting injuries, we can gain insight to the circumstances that caused the injury, potentially avoid those situations in the future and direct athletes to provider care. What we do know is that concussion education and reporting works. One Michigan high school saw a near 30% decrease in head injuries following more stringent concussion education and coach reporting policies.
The better we understand the mental health symptoms of concussions and properly report these findings to medical professionals, the more effectively we can support the recovery and care of youth athletes.
Click here to learn more about mental health and concussions from Concussion Alliance
- Cavitt, M. (2022, October 10). Michigan seeing youth sport concussions decline as laws around education strengthen. The Oakland Press. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.theoaklandpress.com/2022/10/09/michigan-seeing-youth-sport-concussions-decline-as-laws-around-education-strengthen/
- Ledoux A, Webster RJ, Clarke AE, et al. Risk of Mental Health Problems in Children and Youths Following Concussion. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(3):e221235. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.1235
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