Indiana High School Athletes Suffer 1,200+ Concussions in Five Months
This is a piece from WTHR.com written by Bob Segall.
INDIANAPOLIS –13 Investigates has sobering information detailing the number of concussions suffered by Indiana high school student athletes.
Tonight, the Indiana High School Athletic Association released to WTHR the first results of a statewide concussion monitoring initiative.
It shows Indiana high school students suffered more than 1,200 concussions during the 5-month fall sports season.
The vast majority of those concussions (88%) were suffered by students playing football and soccer.
“We have around 400 member schools reporting, so that’s — on average — three [concussions] per school,” IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox told WTHR. “That’s a pretty high number in my mind.”
The 1,219 concussions that students suffered between July 1 and November 30 were reported by 189 – or roughly half – of IHSAA’s member schools, according to Cox.
IHSAA asked school districts to start collecting head injury information this summer – at the same time that WTHR exposed how schools across Indiana were using low-rated football helmets that put students at a higher risk of concussions.
Since then, school districts reported 823 concussions on the football field.
Soccer players – including both boys and girls – sustained 247 concussions this fall, according to IHSAA.Next on the list:
Volleyball — 72 concussions
Basketball (boys and girls) – 34 concussions
Wrestling – 11 concussions
Cross country (boys and girls) – 8 concussions
Schools reported gymnasts and softball players both suffered 6 concussions while participating in high school athletics during the fall season; swimmers (boys and girls) suffered 5 concussions; tennis players 3; baseball players 2; and there was 1 concussion reported for participants of both girls golf and girls track.
IHSAA also reported the impact surface involved in each head injury. A natural grass field was the most common surface associated with concussions (69%), followed by synthetic turf (19%) and a gym floor (9%). The IHSAA report also included other surfaces such as swimming pool walls, weight rooms, the head of another player, contact with a ball and car accidents.
“The numbers are fairly reflective of what we anticipated with the lion’s share in football and on natural grass. Girl’s soccer numbers are up there like I thought they would be,” Cox said. “But I would never have thought about swimmers hitting their heads on the wall and getting a concussion, or one kid who hit himself in the head with a tennis racquet and got a concussion.”
Schools are not mandated to report their concussion incidents to IHSAA, so it is likely the actual number of concussions is higher than those reported to IHSAA. The number of reported head injuries will certainly rise for sports like basketball, baseball and softball after head trauma incidents are tallied for their competitive seasons in the winter and spring.
In its first-ever statewide assessment of concussions, IHSAA also tracked the amount of time it took for injured players to return to competition. School reported that 92% of athletes who suffered a concussion were able to participate in their sport within 30 days of their injury.
So what do all the numbers mean? It’s too soon to tell.
Being the first assessment of its kind in Indiana, there are no other statewide statistics for the purposes of comparison. Cox is confident the numbers will prove valuable in the future.
“It’s like any statistical data we gather … it will take time to sort out. This is a benchmark to compare future numbers,” he said.