As of late, there has been a lot of discussion around the issue of traumatic brain injuries that occur in contact sports. Much of the focus has been on the professional athletes that play in the National Football League. Although a lawsuit by former NFL players may have prompted the safety discussion, they aren’t the only ones affected by these injuries.
A recent study looked at brain injuries suffered by high school and college athletes. The data showed that there were more reports of high school students suffering concussions than ones involving college athletes. According to the numbers, the highest instances occurred in football, lacrosse, baseball and soccer. When only women were considered, ice hockey had the highest rate.
Dr. Robert Graham was one of the study’s authors. He said that “we have numbers right now, but we don’t have good data.” What Dr. Graham was referring to was the fact that not all injuries are always reported. This means that the reports can be analyzed, but all of the essential data isn’t included, skewing the results.
In this case, he pointed out that on the college level, there may be different feelings surrounding the sport and any possible injuries. At the college level, some athletes may be so devoted to the sport, that they wouldn’t let a “little injury” make them skip a game. In other cases, an athlete may fear that having an injury would result in a sentence of shorter playing time.
Regardless of whether an athlete is playing at the high school or college level in California or anywhere else, there are other issues actually helping cause the injury in the first place. Researchers found that the safety equipment used to protect against head trauma doesn’t live up to its job. Also at play are state laws that set out reporting requirements but that are not enforced.
This study was funded in part by the NFL, and it was released by the Committee on Sports-Related Concussions in Youth, an affiliation of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: CNN, “High school athletes found more vulnerable to concussions,” Nadia Kounang, Ot. 31, 2013