When it comes to concussions in high school sports, there is good news and bad news, a new study suggests.
The rates of football practice concussions and recurrent concussions across all sports have gone down in recent years, according to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics on Tuesday. The bad news: Concussion rates increased in football games.
“These results matter for all stakeholders involved in high school sports: parents, coaches, athletes, as well as researchers,” said Avinash Chandran, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was an author of the study.
“This study updates our understanding of concussion patterns in high school sports using injury surveillance data,” he said. “It adds to our existing understanding by providing the most recent ‘time-stamp’ in concussion incidence in high school sports.”
The study found trends in concussion rates not only for football but also more than a dozen other sports, including soccer, ice hockey and cheerleading – which were among the sports with the most concussion incidence.
The study also found that among all sports, there was only one in which the concussion rate was higher during practice than in competition.
The high school sports with high concussion rates
The study included data on 9,542 concussions across 20 high school sports that occurred between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 school years.
Those sports were: boys’ football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, baseball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, swimming and diving, and track and field; girls’ volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming and diving, and track and field; and coed cheerleading.
The data came from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study database, or HS RIO.
For the study, a concussion – a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head – was defined as occurring as a result of practice or competition, requiring medical attention and being diagnosed as a concussion.
For each sport, the rate of concussion was measured as the occurrence of a concussion per each exposure athletes had to participating in their respective sport, either in practice or competition.
Overall, the data showed that the three sports with the highest concussion rates were:
- Boys’ footbal