Mason Researcher Finds Concussions in High School Sports Are Rising
Although football season has come to a close, reports of players sustaining major concussions were all too common this year. As a result, the NFL and other sports leagues — from professional to youth levels — are increasingly concerned about making the sport safer for its players.
Keeping players safe is what Shane Caswell, associate professor of athletic training and director of the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research and Testing (SMART) Laboratory in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, hopes to accomplish in his research. It focuses on the prevention of traumatic brain injury in sport.
In his most recent study, Caswell, a certified athletic trainer, and his colleagues, examined the concussion trends of more than 150,000 student athletes at Fairfax County Public Schools for 11 consecutive years, beginning in 1997 and ending in 2008. They found that concussions rates in high school sports are rising at a 15 percent annual rate.
The results showed that boys’ sports accounted for three quarters of all concussions and football topped the list of sports with the highest concussion rates. Girls’ soccer came in a distant second among concussion rates. But, surprisingly, in similar girls’ and boys’ spots, the concussion rate for girls was roughly twice what was reported for boys.
The study followed student athletes from six boys’ sports – football, lacrosse, wrestling, soccer, basketball and baseball – and six girls’ sports – field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, cheerleading and softball.
“At the completion of the study, we were not surprised to find that the collision sports of football and boys’ lacrosse contributed to the high number of total concussions,” says Caswell.
“Despite these findings, we observed increasing concussion rates in every sport, which leads us to suggest that although the highest percentage of concussions occur in high-impact sports, efforts to detect, treat and prevent concussion should not be limited to those sports.”
More information about the study can be found here.