Among U.S. high school students, 15.1% reported at least one concussion in the prior year, with a higher prevalence among students who played on a sports team, according to survey results released today by the CDC.
“In 2017, an estimated 2.5 million high school students reported having at least one concussion related to sports or physical activity during the year preceding the [Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)], an estimated 1 million students reported having two or more concussions during the same time frame,” Lara DePadilla, PhD, a behavioral scientist at the Traumatic Brain Injury Team in the CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, and colleagues reported. “The findings suggest that students who played on a sports team had a significantly higher risk for one or more concussions than did students who did not play on a team.”
“Furthermore, concussions were significantly more common among students who played on two or three or more sports teams than among those who played on one team,” they added.
Data from YRBS were used to estimate prevalence of concussions among U.S. high school students who reported playing a sport or being physically active. The researchers also found that 6% of students reported two or more concussions during the 12 months before the survey.
According to questionnaire responses collected by the CDC, 9.1% of students reported one concussion related to sports or physical activity. Black and Hispanic students were more likely to have four or more concussions when compared with white students.
In 2017, the CDC added a question about concussion to the YRBS questionnaire. Concussion was defined as “when a blow or a jolt to the head causes problems such as headaches, dizziness, being dazed or confused, difficulty remembering or concentrating, vomiting, blurred vision or being knocked out.” Students were asked in the prior 12 months how many times a concussion occurred from playing sports or being physical active, and how many sports teams the students played on during the prior year.
One concussion related to sports or physical activity in the prior 12 months was reported by 9.1% of students, two were reported by 3%, three were reported by 1% and four or more were reported by 2%. One, two, or four or more concussions were more likely to be reported by boys than girls. Single concussions were more likely to occur in students in grades 9, 10 and 11 compared with those in grade 12.
Four or more concussions were more likely to be reported by black or Hispanic students compared with white students.
More students who played on at least one sports team reported at least one concussion compared with those not on sports teams. The prevalence of students reporting at least one concussion was 16.7% (95% CI, 14.8%-18.9%) for students playing on one team, 22.9% (95% CI, 19.7%-26.4%) for students on two teams and 30.3% (95% CI, 26.1%-34.1%) for students on three or more teams, compared with 7.6% (95% 6.5%-8.8%) for students who did not participate on a team
The researchers noted that since concussions were self-reported, the report might have overestimated the number of concussions, because the student might have reported concussions occurring before the 12-month period or mistakenly reported a concussion because symptoms such as headaches can appear in absence of a concussion.
“The findings in this report support the need to continue education efforts addressing concussion risk associated with sports and physical activity and indicate a need for messaging targeted toward students who play on multiple sports teams,” the researches concluded. “Additionally, black and Hispanic students were more likely to report four or more concussions than were white students; targeted messaging might be needed to educate these groups in particular about the risks associated with sustained multiple concussions.” – by Bruce Thiel
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.