Experts Weigh In on Sports-Related Concussions

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – It’s National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month and Brain Awareness week, which has some people thinking about what their kids may be putting at risk when playing their favorite sport.

“A concussion is basically where you have some injury to the brain, usually due to some trauma to the head,” said Dr. Paul Conely. “It can be from contact sports [or] from falling, like riding on a bicycle. It can even be in a child who has a shaking injury and that causes an injury to the brain.”

More than 36 million kids play organized sports each year in the U.S. Between 1.7 and 3 million athletes get a concussion each year. Half of those are undetected and 20 percent are high school athletes. Dr. Tommy John, author of “Minimize Injury Maximize Performance,” said that it’s not unpreventable.

“Everything that’s going into preventing the worst possible scenario from happening is from womb to 13,” said John. “Where are kids most of the time from zero to 13? They’re with their families.”

John said the key to avoiding traumatic brain injuries caused by sports is in parenting. Letting your child play freely outdoors instead of playing video games allows their body to build teh defenses it needs.

“It’s the foundation of everything they’re going to do in life, not just sports,” said John. “And when it’s checked–when the foundation is kind of feeble and thin– it’s only a matter of time before that pyramid topples over.”

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at