For Katherine Price Snedaker, a Norwalk social worker and mother of three, her expertise in concussions has been hard-won. Her number of concussions is in the double digits, starting with her first diagnosed ones at age 16 and 19 from separate car accidents. There was no follow-up care, she said, and only recently has her plea for more attention for female concussions been gaining traction. Snedaker is executive director of PinkConcussions.com, a nonprofit devoted to the latest research on concussions among women. She’s also the founder of SportsCAPP.com, a youth sports concussion educational organization, and she is an associate member of the National Sports Concussion Coalition.
Anytime a high school athlete steps on the field, there is a 5-10 percent risk that he or she will sustain a concussion, according to data from the Sports Concussion Institute. In fact, 53 percent of high school athletes have sustained a concussion before they even play a secondary school sport, putting them more at risk for serious injury if they sustain another concussion. Out of all high school sports, football and lacrosse account for the most concussion rates among males and females, with females twice as likely to sustain concussions, the data shows. Football accounts for 64-76.8 percent of all concussions in males and lacrosse accounts for 31-35 percent of all concussions in females. Dr. Patrick Carroll of Hartford Hospital, said, “The total number of concussions has increased not only because injury, but also because of the number of people recognizing the symptoms.”
In the last three years there’s been an effort in Connecticut and other states to train coaches, players and parents to spot concussions and take players out of games.
Concussion rates among young athletes have increased each year by about 16 percent, according to MomsTeam.com. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 2.7 million children aged 19 and younger were treated annually in emergency departments for sports and recreation-related injuries from 2001-2009. About 6.5 percent or 173,285 of those injuries were traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. And the number of sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injury visits to the emergency room increased 62 percent with the highest rates among males aged 10-19 years, the CDC reported. “Each year, I have seen an increase in concussions involving high school athletes,’’ said Dr. David Wang, medical director of Elite Sports Medicine and the team physician for Quinnipiac University.
When Rich Angarano’s players hit the football field this season, not only will he be watching their tackles, passes and touchdowns, but for signs that a player should be pulled from a game following a hard hit to the head.