Concussions in the different levels of football

Posted on in Industry News, News

football fieldA study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that high school and college football players report more concussion symptoms than youth league players. The study also found that youth league players tend to return to play within 24 hours of injury, a higher rate than their older counterparts.

Researchers haven’t found the exact cause for the differences, but they have a few ideas for what might be the culprit.

Authors of the study tracked athletic trainer-reported concussions, and return-to-play rates of almost 1,500 sports-related concussions among three levels of football between 2012 and 2014.

Here is what the study found:

  • Across all levels (youth, high school, and college) an average of 5.48 symptoms were reported. The most common were headache, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating
  • The average number of symptoms reported trended higher for high school players and college players than youth players
  • High school athletes reported higher rates of neurocognitive symptoms than the other groups, while college players reported a higher rate of sleep symptoms
  • High school players were more likely to have a return-to-play wait of at least 30 days, followed by youth, and college players
  • Just over 10 percent of youth players returned to play within 24 hours of the injury, a rate more than two times that of college athletes and more than 10 times more than high school players
  • Very few concussions resulted in a loss of consciousness, a finding that the authors believe highlighted the unreliability of that symptom in diagnosing a concussion

Researchers have speculated the following based off the data found throughout the study:

  • A higher rate of cognitive symptoms experienced by high school players may be related to the fact that growth in brain matter peaks in adolescence
  • Longer return to play times among the high school group could have something to do with the fact that students often have longer classes without breaks, a contributing factor in symptom recovery
  • The number of players who return to play within 24 hours may be high because they are presenting with delayed concussion symptoms. Another possible factor is a disagreement between athletic trainers and physicians over concussions assessments
  • The higher return to play rates may be explained by that group’s struggle to describe the symptoms they are experiencing to athletic trainers.

Click here for more information on this topic from the APTA.