Health Plus: Not-So-Hard-Head - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Not-So-Hard-Head


WATERLOO (KWWL)-- The number of sports-related concussions in kids has reportedly doubled in the past decade.

In Health Plus, one eastern Iowa freshman has been sidelined by the impact on his brain.

Sam Hansen loves snowboarding, but not the concussions that have come with it.

The 15-year-old Iowa City West Freshman has had three since the 7th grade--all while wearing a helmet.

"I clipped my back edge and I just kinda slammed back and my head got flung into the ground," Sam Hansen, who has had three concussions.

Covenant Clinic neurosurgeon Dr. Timothy Ryken treats a lot of young eastern Iowans like Sam who've had concussions.

The Waterloo doctor says the milder head injury usually happens from sports, falls or car crashes.

"It's not so much that there's just an impact right on the brain itself, it's a fact of the way that the brain and the spinal cord interact that seems to have the most importance," says Dr. Ryken.

The problem, he says, is with each concussion comes a greater risk of permanent brain injury. Something young people need to seriously consider when playing contact sports.

Dr. Ryken says, "Concussions with wrestling is another big issue. And a lot of times you start talking to them and they're like, 'Well, I had this one. Well there was that one at this tournament,' and pretty soon you add them up they've got four or five over a couple years."

For Sam after three concussions, the risk was too great.  He's putting high school football and soccer on hold.

Sam says, "I was planning on playing football next year. I'm not going to be able to because of my concussions."

It's a decision Dr. Ryken knows is not easy, but he says research shows concussions significantly increase your chances of dementia in later life.

Next week, meet Dr. Ryken's son, Joe, who gave up a college soccer scholarship because of his repeated concussions.

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