Concussions In Lacrosse Can Cause Serious Harm

What are the risks in the fastest growing sport in the US?

Over 825,000 players participate in lacrosse, which continues to be the fastest-growing team sport among high schools and colleges across the United States, reports US Lacrosse. Considering that “youth sports is in the midst of a crisis,” with athletic participation among 6-12 year olds “down almost 8 percent over the last decade,” according to The Washington Post, any surge in activity is cause for celebration.

Right?

While we’re happy to see more youth athletes enjoying this sport, lacrosse does put many kids and teens at greater risk for concussion. An infographic from US Lacrosse Center for Sport Science shares a few key insights regarding concussion risk among various lacrosse player demographics.

What Is the Concussion Risk Among Lacrosse Players?

  • Girls’ Lacrosse: The most common impact mechanism is stick contact (43.1%)
  • Boys’ Lacrosse: The most common impact mechanism is player-to-player contact.
  • Both Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse: Midfield players suffer the most impacts.
  • Additionally, 31% of youth boys and girls play on more than one lacrosse team in a single season, and 82% of lacrosse players play at least one other organized sport. This additional exposure could increase risk for concussion.

What About Impact Sensors?

Many coaches, trainers, and parents have sought to reduce the adverse outcomes associated with mild traumatic brain injury and concussion in lacrosse through the use of head impact sensors. These small sensors may attach directly to a helmet or goggles; some are attached to the skin; still, others may be embedded in a mouthguard. The idea is that the impact sensor will measure the number and force of impacts sustained by a player during a season. Coaches and trainers can then make preemptive decisions to pull a player if their risk for brain injury becomes too great.

While seemingly a good idea, impact sensors have a high number of false positives. Furthermore, not all impacts even get recorded. US Lacrosse reports that only 58% of impacts among high school girls and 65% of impacts among high school boys were confirmed as true impacts.

With sketchy data and technology still in the early stages, impact sensors should not be exclusively relied upon for keeping lacrosse players safe from concussion. Instead, players and coaches should follow these guidelines for reducing risk of concussion in lacrosse…

Reducing Risk of Concussion In Lacrosse

  • Play by the rules. Unprotected hits should not be a part of your team’s lacrosse strategy.
  • Wear the proper protective gear. Helmets and mouthguards should fit properly. If you have questions about size or comfort, talk to a knowledgeable retailer, coach, or trainer.
  • Take time off. Exhaustion can lead to sloppy technique, exposing players to greater risk for injury. Get the rest you need both short term (one or two days off a week) and long term (one or two months a year away from the sport).
  • Report injuries. Coaches and parents should encourage players to report any and all injuries. A series of unreported mild traumatic brain injuries can turn into a serious problem. Players should always let authorities know if they are hurt.

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Dr. Lindsey M. Mitchell

Dr. Lindsey M. Mitchell

MD

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