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Despite Concussion Symptoms, Teen Athletes Are Not Prepared To Assess Risk Wisely

Seeking glory from a few moments in a sports game is most likely what the teen athlete would choose, regardless of the life-changing risk of repetitive head injury syndrome.

Concussions in amateur sports is now referred to as an “epidemic.”1 Epidemics are commonly known as having widespread and seemingly uncontrollable effects. Concussions in amateur sports, specifically with teenage athletes, are verifiably referred to as an “epidemic,” because teenage athletes are physiologically unable to assess risky situations.

Risk-taking behavior is directly linked to the immaturity of the brain. The architecture of the brain during adolescent years makes it extremely difficult for teens to assess risks wisely.2 Instead of assessing risks and benefits with relative balance, teens tend to weigh benefits more heavily than risks. According to findings by Cognitive Development, male teenagers are more willing to take risks because they enjoy the thrill or potential benefit of a risky situation more than other age groups.

Recent research has used advanced imaging technology to reveal that young brains’ physiological development is immature, leaving “teens easily influenced by their environment and more prone to impulsive behavior[.]”3 This physiological immaturity can cause teens to place themselves in dangerous situations, despite serious risk. Accordingly, after exhibiting concussion-like symptoms, teen athletes are more likely to say “put me back in, coach,” than properly stay on the sidelines.

1.https://www.cnn.com/2011/10/05/opinion/udall-football-concussions

2.https://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_assistance/etraining/adolescent_brain/Overview/

3.https://harvardmagazine.com/2008/09/the-teen-brain.html