Excellent New Study

Although the initial intent of this research study was to examine all injuries of high school athletes in nine sports, the study uncovered some raw numbers on concussions, as reported by Mike Szostak of the Providence Journal.  R. Dawn Comstock began the injury surveillance survey in the 2005-2006 school year and the findings released go through the 2009-2010 season;

The number of concussions suffered by athletes increased 44.8 percent during that four-year period to about 190,385, from about 131,419.

Concussion as a percentage of total injuries increased to 14 percent in 2009-2010, from 9.1 percent in 2005-2006.

That is an eye-opening number, but some of the increase can be attributed to greater awareness.  In the article I could not identify exactly how many schools, or more specifically what percentage of high schools this data was compiled from.  There were other interesting findings in this study (football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, girls volleyball, wrestling, baseball, softball);

  • Only football and softball reported an increase of injuries over 4 years
  • Total injuries dropped from 1.44 million to 1.35 million
  • Football amassed 581,414 of the injuries in the last survey year
    • Sprains/Strains = 38%
    • Concussions = 20%

This information is very welcome, and Comstock should be highlighted for doing a great service.  This gives us a more clear picture of incidence of concussion in high school sports.  What is worrisome is that roughly 19,000 student athletes will suffer lingering symptoms of concussions lasting longer than 10 days.  As I have noted previously, expect to see even more of an increase in concussion reporting for the next few years, as more and more people understand this injury.

As a final note I would like to thank Szostak for ending the article with what is truly important for injury prevention, ATHLETIC TRAINERS;

Ullucci said there were 3,000 athletic trainers in New England, but Rhode Island was not well represented. Private and parochial schools employ athletic trainers, but the only public schools with them are those that have contracted his company. An athletic trainer earns between $25,000 and $35,000, he said, “half the cost of a teacher or nurse.” His athletic trainers receive about $20 per hour when they work in the schools.

“I don’t think we’re doing enough to ensure the safety of kids. Rhode Island is behind the times in protecting youth athletes. In Washington, D.C., which is a poor district, every school has an athletic trainer. In New Jersey, 90 percent have one or two. In Massachusetts, 30 percent of public schools have an athletic trainer. It’s important that they have the right care,” he said.

2 thoughts on “Excellent New Study

  1. Pliska March 24, 2011 / 16:55

    It should read “The number of concussions REPORTED by athletes increased 44.8 percent during that four-year period to about 190,385, from about 131,419.” Not suffered.

  2. Mike Oliver May 6, 2011 / 14:56

    Dr. Comstock is doing excellent work and is to be commended. NOCSAE has helped fund some of her work in the RIO program, and we look forward to continuing that relationship.

    The 44.8% increase in concussions described in her report from all high school sports is almost exactly the same percentage increase for football alone during that same period, which was 43.2%, but most of that increase happened between 2009 and 2010, when football reported concussions jumped 30%. If this jump in diagnosed concussions is a sign that athletes are more willing to tell the certified trainers, coaches, and parents about concussive symptoms, or that coaches and medical staff are more sensitive to the issue and willing to make the diagnosis more readily, then it is certainly a positive step.


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