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Sport and Sex-Specific Reporting Trends in the Epidemiology of Concussions Sustained in High School

Approximately 300,000 U.S. adolescents sustain concussions annually while participating in organized athletics. An investigation done by the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at North Western University Feinberg School of Medicine, aimed to track sex and sport-specific trends among high school sports-related concussions over time; to identify whether a particular sport predisposes athletes to a higher risk, and to assess whether traumatic brain injury law enforcements have been successful in improving recognition.

Data was collected between the years 2005-2014; the relative proportions of total estimated concussions to estimated injuries were compared using an injury proportion ratio. From the first school year in 2005-2006 to 2014-2015, there was a significant increase in the overall number of concussions for all sports combined. Based on the injury proportion ratio, during the 2014-2015 academic year, concussions were most common in girls’ soccer than any other sport.

Due to the high risks of concussions and the devastating effects that could happen, concussion prevention and recognition measures continue to be emphasized in high school contact sports. The data from this study suggest that the significant increases in the overall rate and proportion of reported concussions during the past decade could have been affected by the traumatic brain injury legislation. Sports-related concussions in adolescent athletes can have a lasting effect, and we now know that female athletes especially girls’ soccer players, may be at a greater risk for sustaining this injury than other athletes. We can only hope that this study may help lead to policy and prevention measures that can potentially halt these trends.

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