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Heads Up: Concussion Stats Reveal Surprising Numbers

It’s important to stay on top of new research but, perhaps even more importantly, to stay vigilant and keep player safety in mind during warmups, practices and game time.

Football may be getting all the concussion-related heat these days, but a closer look at the statistics suggests we should be focusing on other sports, too.

In a recent study titled Sport- and Gender-specific Trends in the Epidemiology of Concussions Suffered by High School Athletes, published by Michael S. Schallmo, Joseph A. Weiner and Wellington K. Hsu in July of 2017, it is revealed that approximately 300,000 adolescents suffer concussions each year while participating in organized sports.

This population may be a serious public health concern, because adolescent brains are more at risk for protracted recovery. In the study, injuries were reported for boys and girls playing nine sports at 100 U.S. high schools, including girls’ softball, boys’ baseball, wrestling, boys’ and girls’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, football and boys’ and girls’ soccer.

The study shows that reporting of concussions increased significantly, likely because of people being more aware of and looking for concussions.

However, perhaps what was most surprising was that, as a percentage of total injuries, girls’ soccer had outpaced football for number of concussions. Football was also closely followed by girls’ basketball, with boys’ soccer showing the fourth-highest rate in the group. Baseball and girls’ volleyball showed the lowest rates of injury in the group by a noticeable margin.

The real lesson to learn here might be that while coaches and parents may have pre-conceived notions about how injuries happen. How many people would have guessed that girls’ soccer had the highest proportion of concussions? I’ve written about making practices safer before and found out that among competitive volleyball players aged 12 through 17, 61 percent of concussions happened outside of games, (46 percent happened during practice and 15 percent happened during warmups).

In a study published by JAMA Pediatrics that analyzed data collected on 20,000 football players competing at the youth, high school and college levels, it was revealed that among older players (high school and college), 58 percent of concussions occurred during practices.

When it comes to player safety, it’s not just about game time, contact sports or any other notion that we have a feeling about. It’s important to stay on top of new research, but perhaps even more importantly, to stay vigilant and keep player safety in mind during warmups, practices and game time.

Also, it may be smart to keep soccer headers to a minimum during practice and make any other relevant adjustments for other sports that would decrease the risk of head injury. The extra effort is well worth it.

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Concussion NCSA