Baseball, volleyball and basketball are probably not the first sports that come to mind when you think of athletes who need to wear a sports mouth guard. But any athlete who can sustain a blow to the head is at risk of concussion and dental injury.
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) says that concussion is very common in high school sports, with around 136,000 students suffering concussions each school year. And while they say football-related injuries comprise 50% of these, other sports such as soccer, basketball and baseball injuries comprise a significant share.
Data from the American Journal of Sports Medicine supports the AAN position on varsity sports. The journal published a paper in 2010 that evaluated how American high schools managed concussions during the 2008-2009 school year. The study reviewed information that 100 schools entered an online injury reporting system that collects details about the injuries suffered in football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball, volleyball and softball.
For each reported injury, the reporting schools had to detail the sport, date of injury, age and gender of the athlete, the level of competition and type of injury, describe the symptoms and their duration and indicate when the athlete returned to the sport.
The study found:
- A total of 544 concussions
- More than 50% occurred in varsity athletes
- Nearly 70% occurred during competition, not at practices
- Concussion was caused 75% of the time by head-to-head collisions with other players
- 5% of concussion injuries resulted in loss of consciousness
- It took longer for concussion symptoms to resolve in younger players
- Athletes whose injuries were evaluated using computerized neuropsychological testing did not return to play within one week compared to athletes who were not
What is interesting is that many coaches and parents don’t worry that a concussion is severe unless a player loses consciousness, when clearly this is not the case. Many people believe that someone playing baseball, basketball or volleyball or involved in wrestling is not at risk for a concussion injury and therefore are far less likely to wear any protective gear. However these athletes are at risk as well as the kids who play varsity football or rugby. Obviously if an athlete is hit in the head, there is a risk of serious and even potentially fatal injury and it doesn’t matter what the sport.
Medical studies show that it is dangerous to have athletes return to play too early after a concussion because there can be serious consequences if a player sustains a second concussion too soon after a head injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has free materials for high school coaches so they can recognize the signs of concussion and pull a player off the field, ice, court or track. Their Heads Up:Concussions in High School Sports program offers help to educate players and parents about the long-term problems and risk of death that arise from playing with a concussion.
What is one common recommendation from all the experts when it comes to concussion prevention and safety? Young athletes need to wear the right equipment for their activity, including helmets, padding, shin guards and eye and mouth guards. To work well, naturally the right equipment has to fit well.
The PowerPlus mouth guard is proven to help redistribute the G-forces that result from a blow to the head, therefore reducing the impact to the head. The PowerPlus sports mouth guard is also comfortable and easy to wear – even letting athletes breathe and speak while wearing it. Therefore greatly increasing the odds that athletes will wear the mouth guard continually. As an added benefit studies have shown that athletes experience more power and stamina while wearing the PowerPlus mouthguard.