July 17, 2013

Concussions among women exceed men as awareness is found lacking

By Curtis Eichelberger / Bloomberg News

(Continued from page 2)

No helmet or other equipment has been proven to prevent concussions, said Hainline from the NCAA. Helmets prevent cuts and skull fractures, but don't stop the whipping rotation that accompanies concussions.

As soon as an athlete, parent or coach recognizes concussion symptoms, the player should be removed from the game and evaluated by a health professional, Hainline said in an interview. The NCAA has produced concussion management recommendations in its Sports Medicine handbook, plus fact sheets for coaches and athletes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says about 75 percent of traumatic brain injuries are concussions.

Collins, who has a 24-person staff at the University of Pittsburgh's concussion program, helped develop the CDC's concussion toolkit and assisted in the development of the testing system used by sports leagues and the military to evaluate concussion severity and determine when an athlete can return to play.

He's treated professional athletes including New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 2006 American League Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins.

Collins says one in 10 high school athletes will suffer a concussion this year and most will need more than a week to recover.

"Emily is a case that is very unfortunate," Collins said. "To be very honest, it's rare we see someone who can't get completely better. We have effective treatments and approaches now where the majority will recover fully from injury."

Peters has spoken to young female soccer players about concussions and the mistake she made playing despite her brain injuries. She said she understands how a girl can want something so much that she can't fathom the notion of pulling herself out of a game or sitting out weeks because of a bump on the head.

Her decision has cost her dearly, she said. And she never achieved the goal she coveted most: to play in a regular-season college soccer game. Now, compounding her disappointment, are the lingering symptoms that have forced her to change her life.

"It's not worth it," she said. "If you are feeling headaches, if you feel anything. It's extremely dangerous to play through symptoms. That's what I'd tell them: Don't do it."

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