Laws lim­it­ing in­juries to brain

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By John In­gold

The Den­ver Post

New laws that re­quire bet­ter re­port­ing and mon­i­tor­ing of con­cus­sions for high school ath­letes ap­pear to be work­ing to re­duce the num­ber of trau­matic brain in­juries that young play­ers suf­fer, ac­cord­ing to a study co-au­thored by a Univer­sity of Colorado re­searcher.

The study found that the rates at which young ath­letes suf­fered a sec­ond con­cus­sion soon af­ter their first de­clined dra­mat­i­cally af­ter states passed the laws. Pre­vent­ing such “re­cur­rent con­cus­sions” is vi­tal be­cause the dam­age caused by con­cus­sions can in­crease ex­po­nen­tially if the head in­juries oc­cur close to­gether in time.

Most of the new laws ap­proved in the past decade — in­clud­ing in Colorado — re­quire youth-sports coaches to re­move ath­letes from play if they show signs of a con­cus­sion and to pre­vent the ath­letes from re­turn­ing to play un­til they are cleared by a doc­tor. Dawn Com­stock, a re­searcher at the CU School of Pub­lic Health and a co-au­thor on the pa­per, said the study sug­gests that ath­letes who sit out un­til they fully re­cover from a con­cus­sion are less likely to suf­fer a new con­cus­sion when they re­turn to com­pe­ti­tion.

“The take-home is that it does ap­pear that these statelevel con­cus­sion laws were ef­fec­tive at im­prov­ing the recog­ni­tion of con­cus­sions,” Com­stock said.

The study was pub­lished on­line this month by the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health.

Com­stock over­sees a na­tional data­base called High School RIO, or Re­port­ing In­for­ma­tion On­line. The data­base is part of a broader na­tion­wide ef­fort to track and study high school sports in­juries.

Ath­letic train­ers from across the coun­try sub­mit de­tailed re­ports on every type of in­jury their ath­letes suf­fer — not­ing not just the in­jury, but other fac­tors such as the time of day it oc­curred, the po­si­tion that ath­lete was play­ing, the play­ing sur­face and the weather con­di­tions. It is from this trea­sure chest of in­jury data that Com­stock and her co-au­thors pulled the num­bers for their

con­cus­sion study.

The first re­sult they found was en­cour­ag­ing, if coun­ter­in­tu­itive, Com­stock said. The re­searchers found that re­ported con­cus­sions in­creased af­ter states passed their trau­matic brain in­jury laws. But Com­stock said that in­crease is prob­a­bly the re­sult of bet­ter aware­ness about con­cus­sion symp­toms and bet­ter re­port­ing, not an ac­tual in­crease in head-in­jury risk.

“Pass­ing these laws meant fewer kids were missed,” she said.

In sub­se­quent years, Com­stock said the rates for first-time con­cus­sions sta­bi­lized, while rates for re­cur­rent con­cus­sions dropped.

Con­cus­sions were most com­mon in foot­ball play­ers, the study found. And, across all sports, boys suf­fered con­cus­sions more fre­quently.

But in sports that both boys and girls play — such as soc­cer or bas­ket­ball — girls had con­cus­sion rates al­most twice that of boys. Com­stock said bi­o­log­i­cal fac­tors, such as neck strength, may play a role. But she said it is also pos­si­ble that girls are more com­fort­able speak­ing up when they suf­fer a head in­jury or that coaches are more sen­si­tive to pos­si­ble in­juries with fe­male ath­letes com­pared to male ath­letes.

Over­all, the study doc­u­mented 8,043 con­cus­sions be­tween 2005 and 2016, which, given their sam­ple size, caused the re­searchers to es­ti­mate that there were 2.7 mil­lion con­cus­sions suf­fered by high school ath­letes in those years.

De­spite the risk, Com­stock said par­ents shouldn’t be dis­cour­aged from let­ting their kids play sports.

“The long-term im­pact of in­ac­tiv­ity,” she said, “is worse than the smaller risk of se­ri­ous in­jury.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.