GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- About 2.4 million children and adults in the U.S. suffer from concussions each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Reports show they occur more frequently than breast cancer diagnoses, HIV or AIDs infections, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries combined.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and one common example of a traumatic brain injury is a concussion. The CDC said young athletes are most at risk.
Sports keeps kids active and social, but they can also be dangerous .
“It’s scary stuff, it's something the concerns me with my kids,” said Justin Webber, who has all four of his son in lacrosse and football.
Concussions are defined by the CDC as a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.
Doctors said there are four main categories of symptoms: memory, physical, emotional and sleep.
"I'll see a kid who's typically level headed and I'll say 'We're worried about a concussion.' Before we've done any tests, and they start crying or throwing helmet we say 'OK you've got a concussion'," said Dr. Justin McCoy, a sports medicine doctor at Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates.
When you think of concussions, most think of football, but they can happen in everysport kids play. The most common are football, soccer and skiing.
“Fifteen years ago, it was 'rub some dirt on it and get back out there,'” said Dr. McCoy.
A line that if crossed can lead to the worst outcomes.
“Playing through a concussion can cause death in the worse case scenarios, but usually that's not that case,” said Dr. McCoy.
Though it’s safer to play with a helmet and mouth guards, McCoy said they don't keep you from getting a concussion.
“A lot of kids will take a hit and keep playing. I've seen it happen and it is really hard to keep them from doing that,” said CEO of Mesa County Junior Football, Billy Lampshire. “Even if they don't say anything we have to look, because a lot of kids just won't say anything.”
Billy Lampshire said there are EMTs at every game, and coaches have more training than ever.
“Teach kids how to properly tackle, that's one of the main problems in youth football,” said Lampshire.
Additionally, getting kids to speak up about getting hurt helps a lot.
“If you're dizzy or you can't see right, get a coach or get a dad and get out of the game,” said Webber.
More than 200,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in 2013. Doctors said with the right care, kids can ‘get back out there' in a week or two.
“It’s super important but it shouldn't deter parents or kid form playing a contact sport,” said Webber.
On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Grand Junction TBI and Concussion Advisory Task Force will host an event, highlighting the best practices and techniques for managing concussions for sports and medical professionals.
Every Monday, Rocky Mountain Orthopedic Associates has a sports injury clinic for local athletes suffering from concussions that includes free X-rays. The clinic doesn't include sport physicals or concussion evaluations.