Update on Concussion Trends

November 13, 2019

By Lauren Fournier, PT, DPT


The most recent concussion research from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study database (between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 school years) shows that football concussion rates during competitions increased, but practice-related concussion rates dropped.

There were 20 high school sports that were researched including: 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. For each sport, the rate of concussion was measured as the occurrence of a concussion per each exposure athletes had  participating in their sport, either in practice or competition.

Overall, the data showed that the three sports with the highest concussion rates were:

  1. Boys’ football, with 10.4 concussions per 10,000 athlete exposures.
  2. Girls’ soccer, with 8.19 per 10,000 athlete exposures.
  3. Boys’ ice hockey, with 7.69 per 10,000 athlete exposures.

The study found that across all sports, most concussions (63.7%) occurred during competitions. Only one sport had a concussion rate higher in practice than in competition: cheerleading.

Laura Dreer, an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham says, “By the time young athletes make it to collegiate or professional levels, the damage is done. We need more studies at the high school level, and even backing it up further with the little kids, to get more longitudinal data and better understand this issue so we can do things to prevent it, manage it and hopefully keep kids safe but active as well.”

In the United States there are more than 800,000 traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths that occur in children every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was reduced rate of recurrent concussions, which is likely due to the fact that we now have legislation in every state that says an athlete must be pulled out of sport when a concussion is suspected and the child can’t return to play until being cleared by a physician. It’s been shown in college athletics that the introduction of the mandatory removal and then a return-to-play progression has reduced the rate of recurrent concussions.

If your child has experienced a concussion, and you are interested in having a professional assist with “return-to-play” progression to reduce the possibility of recurrent concussion, give our office a call and schedule a visit with Lauren. She’s our in-house Vestibular Rehab Specialist. 603.644.8334



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