Looking at the facts
Reckless reporting and alarmist headlines about rising concussion rates in youth sports are a pet peeve of mine. Parents, athletes, coaches and league administrators deserve to have the facts presented responsibly on such a serious topic.
The headline on a recent article by a doctor screamed “Concussion rates are rising among U.S. youth.” What the doctor didn’t say in the article is that concussion rates are NOT rising; concussion reporting is rising.
Our internal Accident insurance claim statistics reveal the following increases in the reporting of concussion claims as a percentage of total claims reported:
Concussion rates prior to 2012
Concussion rates 2012-16
The significant increases in concussion claims reported over these time periods have nothing to do with change in the risk factors in these two sports over this time period. These increases have everything to do with educational awareness.
We have concussion education efforts and concussion laws on the books in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to thank for that. These efforts have brought about a heightened awareness of concussion recognition, initial diagnosis and treatment, and return to play monitoring. The increase in the number of reported concussions only reflects how many youth athletes were walking around with undiagnosed concussions in the past.
Promoting educational awareness and risk management
Over a year ago, I wrote about the need for increased efforts in concussion education, stating, “Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports.” And nearly two years ago, I said in an article addressing the media’s concussion hype, “The best outcome is the awareness being brought to the general public about diagnosis, second-impact syndrome, removal, and return-to-play policies.“
I’m pleased to see that all this awareness resulting in more athletes getting the medical care necessary, which enables them to return to playing after treatment and full recovery. The Center for Disease Control’s HEADS UP offers many resources to help parents, coaches, administrators, and healthcare providers recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussions or other serious brain injuries.