MN Dept. of Health study shows nearly 3,000 high school student athletes suffered concussions last school year

By KBJR News 1

September 4, 2014 Updated Sep 4, 2014 at 6:32 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A new Minnesota Department of Health study shows that the state's high school students suffered nearly 3,00 sports-related concussions during the 2013 – 2014 school year.

The MDH worked with the Fairview Institute for Athletic Medicine to collect voluntary online reports of sports related concussions from 36 Twin Cities public high schools.

The study estimates that 2,974 sports related concussions--or 22 per school--occurred among high school athletes statewide last school year.

The report included boys and girls football, basketball, hockey, and soccer, among other sports.

While football and hockey have the same concussion rates—6 per 100 athletes—football accounted for 42% of concussions.

"In sports played by both boys and girls in Minnesota, the rate of concussion among girls is higher than among boys, which mirrors national data on that subject–that girls typically experience higher rates of concussions in the sports that they play than the boys," said MN Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger during Thursday's announcement.

But it doesn't answer why that's the case, or why concussions are higher among sophomores than any other class, for example.

On the plus side, the study found that only 5% of reported concussions had symptoms lasting longer than two weeks.

But Institute for Athletic Medicine director of rehabilitation Lori Glover says it doesn't mean they should be taken any less seriously by coaches and parents.

"In fact, nobody should be in competition with any symptoms from a concussion," said Glover, "so, it's important that everybody's truthful, and everybody seeks appropriate medical attention."

Officials say the goal of the study was to gather for the first time data on the depth and breadth of youth sports concussions that don't make it into the ER.

Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger says he hopes the results will only reinforce a growing push for coaches, parents, and athletic trainers to become more medically savvy.

"...so that we treat at the appropriate level—sometimes on the sidelines, sometimes at home, sometimes at the ER, sometimes with your primary care physician," listed Dr. Ehlinger.

Dr. Ehlinger says national sports leagues, like the NFL, addressing the concussion issue could also strengthen the discussion among the right players back home.

"It also increases some funding for research as people start to see that this is a significant issue," said Dr. Ehlinger, "30 years ago we did not see this as a significant issue."

Officials say they hope to follow up with a more in–depth study, pending funding, next year.

In 2011, Minnesota passed a law requiring coaches to remove athletes under 18 from sports events if they show symptoms of a concussion.

A health care provider needs to grant permission before they can return to the field, rink, or court.

Billy Wagness
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