The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that sports-related concussions in the United States have reached an epidemic level, with approximately 1.5 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions in this country each year. When we think of sports-related concussions, we usually think of contact sports such as football, rugby or soccer. However, these sports are not the only culprits, as doctors are treating student athletes for concussions from such sports as basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics and even wakeboarding.
Doctors from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville say they are treating more patients with sports-related injuries, and while these injuries range from heat related injuries to sprains and strains, they are seeing the greatest increase in treating sports-related concussions. Dr. Alex Diamond with Vanderbilt Sports Medicine said that in the first year of Vanderbilt’s Sports Concussion Center, he treated 142 patients. Before the center opened, Dr. Diamond saw fewer than ten cases. “The number of concussions are probably the same, but yes we are seeing a significant amount more of them because of the increase in recognition and response to them. Which is a good thing,” he said.
One patient of Dr. Diamond, Rebekah Faulkner, 16, was playing basketball at school, when she dove for a loose ball at the same time a player from the opposing team dove for the ball, collided with the opposing player, and ended up with a concussion. Faulkner stated that it felt like someone was slamming something at her head, over and over again, and that “it was the worst headache I’ve ever had.” Faulkner developed not only speech difficulty with her concussion, but memory loss before and after, as well.
Rebekah suffered headaches for three months as a result of her concussion and basically had to live in darkness. Her mother, Rene, said, “No TV, no cell phones, no radio, nothing, just complete silence and dark, … just until she could get to where she wasn’t having the headaches that were so bad.”
Rebekah has finally received the green light from Dr. Diamond to start playing basketball once again. Although she is looking forward to playing the sport she loves, she does have some reservations. “I’m ready to start playing again, but I’m scared I’ll get another one (concussion) and I’ll be out again.”