September 26, 2017
2 min read

Nearly 20% of teens report at least one concussion in their lives

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Philip T. Veliz, PhD
Phil Veliz

Adolescents in grades 8, 10 and 12 who took part in competitive sports were more likely to receive a concussion diagnosis during their lifetime, with 19.5% reporting at least one previous concussion in their lifetime, according to recent findings published in JAMA.

“Little is known about the prevalence and correlates of concussions among U.S. adolescents,” Phil Veliz, PhD, from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan, and colleagues wrote. “Providing a national baseline of concussion prevalence and correlates is necessary to target and monitor prevention efforts to reduce these types of injuries during this important developmental period.”

Using cross-sectional data from a 2016 in-school survey of U.S. students in grades 8, 10 and 12, researchers assessed responses to the question: “Have you ever had a head injury that was diagnosed as a concussion?” Respondents could answer “no,” “yes, once,” and “yes, more than once.” The investigators also examined whether sex, race/ethnicity, grade level, and participation in competitive sport within the past year impacted prevalence of concussion diagnoses.

Overall, 13,088 adolescents (50.2% female; 46.8% white) participated in the survey.

Analysis revealed that involvement in competitive sports was associated with a greater chance of lifetime diagnosis of concussions among adolescents in grades 8, 10 and 12. Specifically, 19.5% (95% CI, 18.5-20.6) of adolescents reported at least one diagnosed concussion in their lifetime: 14% (95% CI, 13.1-14.8) reported one diagnosed concussion and 5.5% (95% CI, 4.9-6.1) reported being diagnosed with a concussion more than once.

Adolescents who were male, white, in a higher-grade level and participated in competitive sports were more likely to report a diagnosed concussion during their lifetime. Participation in contact sports was also linked to a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with more than one concussion (11.1%; adjusted OR = 4.83; 95% CI, 3.29-4.83).

“These findings are consistent with those from emergency department and regional studies that show that participation in sports is one of the leading causes of concussions among adolescents, and that youth involved in contact sports are at an increased risk for sustaining concussions,” Veliz and colleagues wrote, adding that greater effort to track concussions with large-scale epidemiological data is needed to identify high-risk subpopulations and monitor prevention efforts. – by Savannah Demko

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.