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Head Shot: Sports with the Highest Rates of Brain Injuries

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Brooke Chaplan

soccer-headHead injuries are a common occurrence in many sports and can range from mild concussions, to severe or even traumatic brain injuries. All athletes, regardless of the sport, risk injuries, but some sports have much higher rates than others. Here is a look at some of the most dangerous sports out there.

Boxing has one of the highest rates of brain injury of any sport. On average, being hit by a professional boxer is like being hit with a bowling ball moving at 20 miles per hour. About 90 percent of boxers, both professional and amateur, have received some type of head injury from the sport, and one in five have received a traumatic brain injury.

Tens of thousands of people visit the emergency room every year with head injuries caused by football. This sport has the highest concussion rate for high school sports, and at least one third of NFL players have received traumatic brain injuries from playing.

Ice Hockey
Hockey causes fewer brain injuries than football, but on average, head injuries here are more severe. Between 10 and 15 percent of all head injuries from hockey are traumatic, and around 10,000 people visit the emergency room every year because of hockey-related head injuries.

Because heading the ball is an important part of the sport, preventing head injuries in soccer is difficult. Every year, about 60 percent of college soccer players have symptoms of a concussion from head-to-player contact, head-to-ground contact, or head-to-ball contact.

Like football, head injuries from baseball result in tens of thousands of emergency room trips every year. However, many improvements have been made to helmets to protect batters from brain injury. The gear worn has done much to help mitigate the amount of brain injuries caused by the sport.

Surprisingly, cycling has the highest number of brain injuries of any sport and causes about 20 percent of all the athletic-related brain injuries treated in emergency rooms each year. This is probably because cycling is one of the most common athletic activities. Most brain injuries from cycling occur when the cyclist is not wearing a helmet.

With proper medical attention, athletes who sustain head injuries are usually able to recuperate quickly and continue playing their sport. Medical professionals who are well-versed in radiation science technology help examine and treat brain injuries so injured athletes can recover. Although head injuries can be dangerous, they can be hard to avoid in sports, and many athletes consider the risk to be a part of their job.


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