Concussions may be on rise in high schoolers: study

Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:27pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - High school athletes are four times more likely to suffer a concussion today than they were about a decade ago, with football players leading the pack, according to a study.

What was more, concussions appeared to be an issue not only in sports long thought of as high impact, but also those thought of as low impact, with some high school athletes suffering from two or more concussions.

In 25 public schools from 1997 to 2008, and six different sports each for girls and boys, there were about five concussions for every 10,000 times high school athletes were on the field, the research -- published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine -- found.

That's up from slightly over one per 10,000 times on the field in 1997.

"Certainly the recognition of signs and symptoms of concussion have increased dramatically among the players, coaches, athletic trainers and physicians," study author Andrew Lincoln, who heads the Sports Medicine Research Center at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

"Also, there's the issue of players performing better, getting stronger and getting faster," he told Reuters Health.

During the entire period, the chance that boys playing any sport would get a concussion was three in 10,000 exposures, compared to one in 10,000 exposures for girls.

Football was the riskiest sport, with a rate of about six concussions per 10,000. Boys' lacrosse and soccer came next. For girls, concussions were most common during soccer at three and a half per 10,000, followed by lacrosse and basketball.

However, when boys and girls played similar sports, girls were about twice as likely to get a concussion. The same has been found in college athletes, but nobody really knows why.   Continued...