On June 22, 2018, the CDC published a report that found that, in 2017, an estimated 2.5 million high school students reported having at least one concussion related to sports or physical activity during the preceding year. An estimated one million students reported having two or more concussions during the same time frame. Playing on more than one sports team was found to further increase the risk for concussion.
Increased susceptibility to concussions and longer recovery times among high school athletes compared with older athletes make concussions among young people playing a sport or being physically active an area of concern. Short-term and long-term consequences of concussions can include cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes.
The CDC analysis found that, overall, 15.1 percent of students (approximately 2.5 million) reported having at least one concussion during the 12 months before the survey, and six percent reported two or more concussions. Concussion prevalence was significantly higher among male students than among female students and among students who played on a sports team than among students who did not. Among all sex, grade, and racial/ethnic subgroups, the odds of reporting a concussion increased significantly with the number of sports teams on which students played. These findings underscore the need to (1) foster a culture of safety in which concussion prevention and management is explicitly addressed; (2) expand efforts to educate students, parents, coaches, and healthcare providers regarding the risk for concussion; and (3) identify programs, policies, and practices that prevent concussions.
Overall, 9.1 percent of high school students reported one concussion, three percent reported two, one percent reported three, and two percent reported four or more concussions related to sports or physical activity during the 12 months before the survey. Male students were more likely to report one, two, and four or more concussions than were female students. Students in grades nine, 10, and 11 were more likely to report a single concussion than were students in grade 12. Students in grade 9 were more likely to report a single concussion than were students in grade 10. Black and Hispanic students were more likely to report four or more concussions than were white students. Students who played on at least one sports team were more likely to report one, two, three, and four or more concussions than were those who did not play on any teams.
The findings suggest that students who played on a sports team had a significantly higher risk for one or more concussions than did students who did not play on a team. Furthermore, concussions were significantly more common among students who played on two and three or more sports teams than among those who played on one team. Among students who played on one, two, and three or more sports teams, the prevalence of reporting having had at least one concussion was 16.7 percent, 22.9 percent, and 30.3 percent, respectively. Among students who played on at least one sports team, for all demographic subgroups, the odds of reporting a concussion increased with an increasing number of teams on which students played.
The findings in this report support the need to continue education efforts addressing concussion risk associated with sports and physical activity, and indicate a need for messaging targeted toward students who play on multiple sports teams. Additionally, targeted messaging might be needed to educate black and Hispanic students in particular about the risks associated with sustaining multiple concussions because these groups were more likely to report four or more concussions than were white students. In addition, coaches and parents can encourage athletes to follow the rules of play for their sport with an emphasis on player safety, which might reduce the incidence and severity of concussions. It is important that any athlete with a suspected concussion be removed from practice and competition and not return to play without the clearance of a healthcare provider. Continuing to play with a concussion might worsen symptoms and increase the risk for a second concussion; therefore, it is crucial to talk with athletes about the importance of reporting their concussion symptoms. Among recreational activities, bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce head injuries. There is a need to expand programs, policies, and practices, tailored to specific audiences, to ensure that all students, parents, coaches, teachers, and healthcare providers know how to prevent, recognize, and manage concussions. It is critical that these stakeholders know how to safely return students to school and to play following a concussion.
See the CDC Report
See also Medical Risk Law Report: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: Brain Injury Dangers
See also Medical Risk Law Report: Repeat Brain Trauma That Is More Than a Bump on the Head: Multiple Concussion Injury and Second Impact Syndrome