Basketball Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children, Adolescents


Traumatic brain injuries are often associated with football, but a new study finds such injuries are a major problem among children and adolescents who play basketball. Over the past decade, traumatic brain injuries have increased 70 percent in this population, while overall basketball injuries have declined.

Children, Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Approximately 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports in the United States, and unfortunately more than 3.5 million injuries are associated with those activities. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children are associated with sports and recreational activities.

Nearly 50 percent of head injuries related to sports or recreational activities occur during skateboarding, bicycling, or skating incidents. However, a significant number are related to basketball, as the new study shows.

Basketball and Traumatic Brain Injuries
In the new study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, researchers found that more than 4 million basketball-related injuries were treated in emergency departments from 1997 to 2007 for children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19. While the number of injuries decreased 22 percent over the 11-year period, the number of traumatic brain injuries increased 70 percent.


More specifically, the proportion of traumatic brain injuries “doubled for boys and tripled for girls during this time,” notes Lara McKenzie, PhD, a co-author of the study. Children aged 5 to 10 years were more likely to receive a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury than athletes aged 11 to 19 years.

The study also revealed that sprains and strains to the lower extremities were the most common injuries (30%) related to basketball. Adolescents aged 15 to 19 were more likely than younger athletes to suffer strains, sprains, and cuts. Fractures, dislocations, and cuts were more common among boys, while knee injuries and traumatic brain injuries were more common among girls.

These figures are not meant to discourage children from participating in basketball and other sports, but to highlight the dramatic increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries associated with basketball and alert parents, coaches, and athletes to the signs and symptoms of concussions so they can be managed immediately.

“We want to encourage children to continue playing while also reducing the risk of injury,” said McKenzie. Along with recognizing the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, McKenzie noted “there are some precautions such as having young children use age-appropriate basketballs,” which may reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries and finger-related injuries. For more information about injury prevention measures, you can visit the Center for Injury Research and Policy website.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital news release
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford



I think we should always take precautionary measures when playing basketball in order to minimize traumas... Great article. Very informative. :)