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Bikes remain leading cause of kids’ concussion, study says

Joe Frollo Fri, 06/07/2013 - 9:18am

Cycling enthusiasts took a little shot across the bow this week.

A New York Times blog titled “Really? Cycling is the top sport for head injuries” has drawn angry reactions from some in the cycling world as unfair.

According to an American Association of Neurological Surgeons report cited in the story, cycling is the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14, causing 40,272 injuries, roughly double the number related to football (21,878).

Though surprising to many in the general public, this information is nothing new for those who study concussions or work closely with medical professionals.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that goes back to 2001 reports that wheeled sports – this includes skateboarding as well as cycling – are annually the No. 1 cause for traumatic brain injuries among children.

Reports like these aren’t sitting well with cyclists. Blame is given to motorists, pot holes and a lack of bike lanes. Others point to programs like the New York City borrow-a-bike system that places more bike riders on already crowded streets.

But this isn’t about adults. These numbers are for children 14 and younger, some of whom may compete on tracks but mostly are kids who hop on their bikes to go to the park and around their neighborhoods.

USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck and Football Development Senior Director Nick Inzerello are joining representatives from seven other national governing bodies in New York next week to discuss how each sport  is addressing concussions at the youth level.

Conversations like these need to happen. It’s how answers are found.

Opinions can differ, but we all work from the same pool of facts.

Education is often the path to a solution. That’s the approach USA Football has taken with Heads Up Football, which is now part of more than 2,000 youth leagues for the 2013 season.

Nobody is saying riding a bike is bad.

That doesn’t mean we can’t do it better, though.