Oct 16, 2019
New study highlights high school sports with highest concussion rates

A new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics found that concussion rates in football games are on the rise. However, the rates of football practice concussions and recurrent concussion in all sports have declined.

football tackleThe study included data on 9,542 concussions from 20 high school sports between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 school years. Among all sports, the overall concussion rate was 4.17 per 10,000 athlete exposures (AEs), according to the study. The top three sports were:

  1. Football: 10.4 concussions per 10,000 AEs.
  2. Girls soccer: 8.19 concussions per 10,000 AEs.
  3. Boys ice hockey: 7.69 concussions per 10,000 AEs.

When it comes to practices, football topped the list with 4.44 concussions per 10,000 AEs, down from 5.47. It was followed by cheerleading (3.6) and boys wrestling (3.12). Cheerleading was the only sport that had a higher rate of concussions during practices than during competition. The authors believe the drop in football practice concussions may be due to efforts to limit contact.

The study found that 63.7% of all concussions occurred during competition. Rates of concussion during competitions increased from 33.19 to 39.07 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures, signaling a need for continued prevention strategies. In all sports, recurrent concussion rates decreased (0.47 to 0.28 per 10,000 AEs).

  » RELATED: A comprehensive approach to concussions

The study used data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study (High School Reporting Information Online). It also looked at concussion rates in other high school sports, including boys wrestling, soccer, basketball, baseball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, swimming/diving, and track and field; girls volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming/diving, and track and field; and co-ed cheerleading. Among sex-comparable sports (soccer, basketball, baseball/softball, cross country, track, swimming), concussion rates were higher in girls than boys (3.35 versus 1.51 per 10,000 AEs).

The study authors said future research should continue to monitor trends and examine the effect of ongoing concussion prevention strategies in high school sports. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia now have legislation related to concussion management.

Learn more about the Pediatrics study.

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