2013 statistics from the Youth Sports Safety Alliance show children ages 12-15 account for nearly half of all concussions nationwide in 2013. But what about even younger athletes?
One doctor at Sanford Health said Wednesday she sees more than 300 concussions a year in Fargo and many of them are young kids. While not all brain injuries are from sports, many she sees are.
"We definitely see younger kids with concussions. Just yesterday I had a 9 year old. I've seen a couple in the 7 to 8 year old range. So we definitely see some younger folks with concussions,” explained Dr. Robyn Knutson Bueling with Sanford Health.
The main treatment right now is simply rest for both mind and body. Try telling that to an active young athlete.
"It’s not easy to tell your 9 year old that no they can't use the computer and no they can't play Xbox and no they can't watch their favorite movies. But most kids recognize that they feel awful,” said Dr. Knutson Bueling.
Doctors report if a child fully heals from a brain injury there should be no lasting effects through the rest of their life. But how young is too young for sports?
"Under 4th grade would be too young. Kids are still playing with LEGOS and tinker toys and stuff like that. But I think 4th grade is about the time you can still get organized and teach the fundamentals mainly. Competitive keeping score type of thing I don't think is necessary," said Concordia Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Carnal.
Coach Carnal thinks there should be age restrictions for sports and he’s not okay with traveling sports teams for fourth graders.
"If you're going be a committed athlete you got to start young anyway,” said one area resident.
"I think it depends upon the sport. But and if they want to get involved or not. I don't think you should force them to do anything but if they want to get involved yes let them,” said Angie Christensen as she dropped her kids off at hockey practice in Moorhead.
Most people Valley News Live talked with agreed. Some even said their 18-month old children were out on a hockey rink. Most people around the area say it does not matter how old the kids are, they just need to be involved in something and sports is a great outlet for that.
Sanford Health said there’s new technology being tested right now that in a few years could make diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, a more in-depth process. It will be able to show doctors changes in how the brain functions.
More information about youth concussions and injuries can be found at http://www.youthsportssafetyalliance.org/sites/default/files/docs/Statistics-2013.pdf