Using data from LawAtlas and the High School Report Injury Online between the 2005-2006 and 2015-2016 academic years, the researchers examined the statistical association between the implementation of state laws addressing concussions and actual concussion rates in high school athletes reported by athletic trainers. The study focused on nine common high-school sports: boys’ football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and wrestling; and girls’ basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball.
The study finds a significant decrease in the number of recurrent concussions among high school athletes — meaning the athlete had experienced at least one previous concussion, which are a type of traumatic brain injury.
The trend toward decreasing recurrent concussion rates was first seen a little more than two and a half years after the enactment of now-common state-level laws that address removal from play, requirements for clearance to return to play after a concussion, and annual education of coaches, parents and athletes.
While the rates of recurrent concussions decreased after 2.6 years, the researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Temple Univeristy’s Beasley School of Law, and University of Colorado find that rates of concussions actually went up in the years leading up to when the laws became effective, and in the year immediately following a law’s effective dates.
During the 11-year period studied, the researchers find a national estimate of nearly 2.7 million concussions, or 671 concussions per day among US high school athletes participating in at least one of the nine sports included in the study.
Concussions were more frequently reported during competitions rather than during practice. Football accounted for roughly half of all reported concussions in this study. In gender-comparbale sports, girls’ sports had consistently higher concussion rates than boys’ sports over time.