Oregon public high schools with athletic trainers are better able to identify athletes with concussions and reduce overall injury rates. Over a two-year period, there were 566 football concussion evaluations at schools with athletic trainers and 34 at schools without trainers, according to an analysis of records by InvestigateWest, Pamplin Media Group and Reveal of records from 119 high schools.
A key finding of the yearlong investigation was that student athletes in Oregon get more frequent and more thorough medical evaluations for concussions at schools that employ athletic trainers. Schools with athletic trainers reported twice as many possible concussions per student athlete as did schools without a professional trainer. Football players at schools with trainers were more than three times as likely to be kept out of play until medically cleared.
Rest, training and prevention are key to keeping young athletes healthy. And because evidence suggests that young soccer players are more likely to suffer concussions on head-to-ball contact that they’re not prepared for, training for aerial play is important. U.S. Youth Soccer doesn’t allow players younger than 10 to deliberately head the ball in its leagues. It also strongly encourages leagues that combine players age 11 and 12 to consider restricting deliberate headers. Those precautions are reasonable, said Jim Chesnutt, co-director of the Oregon Concussion Awareness and Management Program.
National research has found girls are more likely to suffer a concussion than boys in any sport. And research in 2017 found concussion rates among young female soccer players were nearly as high as concussion rates for boys playing football — and roughly triple the rate of concussions in boys’ soccer. “In a lot of ways, it’s a growing epidemic for young girls that I think has gone unpublicized,” said Jim Chesnutt, a medical expert on sports concussion. InvestigateWest and Pamplin media group crunched the numbers in Oregon.
Morgan Brunner, 13, received a concussion when hit by a stray ball during warm-up for a game of futsal. Thanks to Jenna’s Law, parents and coaches had received information about proper care and concussion protocols. Despite these success stories, there are still grey areas this law doesn’t cover, lawmakers say.
While we now know that football tops the list of concussion injuries per sport, the focus on football skews concussion discussions about other sports risks of concussion. We explore how to evaluate those risks alongside the benefits of physical activity for kids.
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