More than one in 10 concussions affecting children go unreported and preventing these "ghost" concussions at the AIMS Games is a key aim of ACC this week.
More than 11,000 intermediate-aged children are competing at the week-long sports tournament, and more than 10 per cent of concussions could fly under the radar, according to a written statement from ACC.
ACC will be on the ground teaching coaches, parents and players how to recognise and manage a concussion, while promoting it's SportSmart warm-up programmes to prevent other injuries.
ACC injury prevention leader Kirsten Malpas said research indicates more than one in 10 concussions going unreported by children under 16.
"There's still too many concussions going unseen and untreated in children. A brain injury is an invisible injury; no one can see it and we don't want kids carrying these ghost injuries without seeking medical attention.
"This isn't about wrapping kids in cotton-wool - we're focused on reducing the risk of more serious and long-term damage that could keep these young competitors on the side lines.
"We know if you get concussed again before the brain has healed, there's a greater risk of more serious brain injury. It can also increase the risk of other subsequent injuries, through reduced cognitive ability."
Research shows that repeated concussions can lead to a general decline in health and quality of life up to 10 years following the injury.
This year, ACC will have a virtual reality experience at the AIMS Games to teach participants how to recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion in others, so they can learn to look out for their mates.
It will be highlighting the three Rs – Recognise (the signs and symptoms of concussion), Remove (the player from play) and Refer (to a doctor).
"Concussion is a traumatic brain injury, and it doesn't just happen in contact sports and you do not have to be hit on the head. It can happen in any activity where there is a blow to the body or the head that results in a shaking of the brain," Malpas said.
ACC claims data shows concussion affected at least 7375 children aged 16 and under last year.
That number has increased 11 per cent over the past five years and is likely due to increased awareness of the risks associated with concussions.
"There's still more work to do. We want to help people recognise concussion early so that they can access the treatment they need rather than struggle with symptoms undiagnosed," Malpas said.
She said the benefits of playing sport far outweigh the risk of injury and it's amazing to see a record number of kids participating in the AIMS Games this year.
"We'll be doing our best to help participants stay injury free so they can enjoy all the physical, social and emotional benefits that come with playing sport."
Concussion symptoms include:
- Dizziness, loss of balance/coordination
- Blurry vision, sensitivity to light/noise
- Neck pain, headache
- Confusion, loss of memory, hard to concentrate
- Irritability, more emotional than usual.