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One in 10 ‘ghost’ concussions tipped to fly under the radar

ACC is aiming to prevent ‘ghost’ concussions going unseen and unreported by children at this year’s AIMS Games in Tauranga.

More than 11-thousand intermediate-aged kids are competing at the week-long sports tournament, and more than 10% of concussions could fly under the radar.

As a key sponsor of the AIMS Games, we’ll be on the ground teaching coaches, parents and players how to recognise and manage concussion, as well as promoting our SportSmart warm up programmes to prevent other injuries.

ACC Injury Prevention Leader Kirsten Malpas says research indicates more than one in 10 concussions going unreported by children under 16.

“There’s still too many concussions going unseen and untreated in children. A brain injury is an invisible injury; no one can see it and we don’t want kids carrying these ghost injuries without seeking medical attention.

“This isn’t about wrapping kids in cotton-wool - we’re focused on reducing the risk of more serious and long-term damage that could keep these young competitors on the side lines.

“We know if you get concussed again before the brain has healed, there’s a greater risk of more serious brain injury. It can also increase the risk of other subsequent injuries, through reduced cognitive ability,” Kirsten Malpas says.

Research shows that repeated concussions can lead to a general decline in health and quality of life up to 10 years following the injury.

This year ACC will have a virtual reality experience at the AIMS Games to teach participants how to recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion in others, so they can learn to look out for their mates.

It will be highlighting the three Rs – Recognise (the signs and symptoms of concussion), Remove (the player from play) and Refer (to a doctor).

“Concussion is a traumatic brain injury, and it doesn’t just happen in contact sports and you do not have to be hit on the head. It can happen in any activity where there is a blow to the body or the head that results in a shaking of the brain” Kirsten Malpas says.

ACC claims data shows concussion affected at least 7,375 children aged 16 and under last year. That number has increased 11% over the past 5 years and is likely due to increased awareness of the risks associated with concussions.
“There’s still more work to do. We want to help people recognise concussion early so that they can access the treatment they need rather than struggle with symptoms undiagnosed,” Malpas says.

Malpas says the benefits of playing sport far outweigh the risk of injury and it’s amazing to see a record number of kids participating in the AIMS Games this year.

“We’ll be doing our best to help participants stay injury free so they can enjoy all the physical, social and emotional benefits that come with playing sport,” Malpas says.

Concussion symptoms include:
o Dizziness, loss of balance/coordination
o Blurry vision, sensitivity to light/noise
o Neck pain, headache
o Confusion, loss of memory, hard to concentrate
o Irritability, more emotional than usual.

Learn more about how to recognise and respond to concussion, along with our other SportSmart programmes:
https://accsportsmart.co.nz/

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