Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Youth Athletes


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among youth athletes is a serious public health concern in the United States. In 2011, more than 55,000 high school football players and 29,000 young soccer players sustained concussions (a type of TBI) during practice or competition. Since 2007, state legislatures in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation to address youth sports-related concussion. The vast majority of these laws share three components:

  • Provision of education or training on concussion recognition and appropriate responses.
  • Removing a youth athlete from play or practice in the event of a suspected concussion.
  • Returning a youth athlete to practice or competition after evaluation and clearance by a designated health care provider.

The Next Generation of Sports Concussion Law?

The majority of existing youth sports-related concussion laws aim to raise concussion awareness among students, parents, coaches, and other school personnel, and prevent the harmful short- and long-term effects of a concussion.

Twenty-one states require coaches to be trained in youth sports concussion recognition and awareness (see map below).  Some states are looking for ways to prevent youth sports- and recreation-related concussion before they occur. Massachusetts, for example, enacted legislation in 2010 that prevents coaches, trainers or volunteers for an extracurricular athletic activity to encourage or allow students to “engage in any unreasonably dangerous athletic technique that unnecessarily endangers the health of a student, including using a helmet or any other sports equipment as a weapon.”

While, evaluation is needed for these prevention interventions, these policies and activities may help prevent concussions from occurring. For more information about youth sports traumatic brain injury, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Concussion in Sports webpage.

State Youth Concussion Law Requires Training for Coaches, 2014

United States Map of State Youth Concussion Law Requires Training for Coaches

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2014.