Increasing ER visits for head injuries may be a good thing

Joe Degenova and Dr. Craig Burnworth

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- A new study shows more people are playing it safe when it comes to treating head injuries.

The research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a number of children going to the emergency room with concussions is up and health experts say that's actually a good thing.

Joe Degenova has experienced his share of bumps and bruises. When he was 10, he was hit in the head with a golf ball, causing a traumatic brain injury.

If the athletic teen were to suffer another blow to the head, his life could be in danger.

"It's in the back of your mind always, if you get injured," Joe explains.

But luckily, he hasn't suffered another TBI, of the kind of injury that parents and coaches are increasingly seeking to avoid; a concussion.

"Definitely individuals are becoming much more aware in recognizing the problem," adds Dr. Craig Burnworth of Moore Orthopedic Clinic.

He specializes in treating athletes with concussions.

According to the CDC, the number of kids coming into the ER with concussions is up 60 percent in the past decade.

Dr. Burnworth isn't surprised by the new data. He adds, the total number of children with concussions he would see in 12 months is now coming to him in two.

Football is one of the leading reasons for brain injuries in youth. And while Dr. Burnworth says having athletic trainers on the field is the best defense, he credits the media for improving public awareness.

"Now we're seeing people pulling the athlete from the sport and taking the steps to monitor the patient with the help of athletic trainers," Burnworth says.

Although Joe is more at risk for health problems because of his previous accident, he trusts his team of parents, coaches and friends to take care of him whether he's up or down.