Should Basketball Players Wear Helmets?

America’s most loved sport has much to contribute to the sharp increase in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) among children and adolescents, as analyzed from data from emergency departments in 100 hospitals in the United States. A national study conducted by researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital unearths a 70% increase in TBIs from 1997-2007, from Basketball-related injuries alone. Over 4 million cases were analyzed in this study.

The study, which will appear in October 2010’s issue of Pediatrics, segregates the data obtained into their injury-types. While sprains and strains to lower extremities (especially the ankle) constituted the majority of cases at 30.3%, TBIs constituted 14.1% of the total number of cases. Gender-comparison studies revealed that boys were more susceptible to lacerations, fractures and dislocations while girls were more vulnerable to sprains, strains and TBIs.

While this study may be the first of its kind, it may have several limitations arising from the fact that it only includes data from emergency departments. Injuries and trauma treated by urgent care centers, private physicians and other medical care have not been included in this study. It also does not account for fatalities. Dr Lara McKenzie from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital states that “more such research needs to be done to understand TBIs and to reduce its growing pace.”

The report magnifies the need to raise awareness about TBIs among schools, and parents and to train coaches and physical instructors in the skill of recognizing such injuries. Dr McKenzie believes that “the increased number of cases might be a reflection on the increased awareness of TBIs in the last decade.”


Charles Randazzo, BA, Nicolas G. Nelson, MPH, and Lara B. McKenzie, PhD, MA, Basketball-Related Injuries in School-Aged Children and Adolescents in 1997–2007, PEDIATRICS Volume 126, Number 4, October 2010

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