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Student Athletes Suffer Concussions During Practice More than Games, Study Shows

By: Allan M. Siegel

Football season is in full swing, and that means daily practices and Friday night lights at fields and school across the country. Although we know that athletes give it their all come game time, new research is suggesting that practice - not actual games - is where athletes may face the greatest risks of suffering injuries, especially concussions.

DC Brain Injury LawyerThe new study, conducted by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and published in JAMA, analyzed statistics collected by athletic trainers for approximately 20,000 youth, high school, and college football players. Statistics included information about player injuries, including concussions, during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Here are some of the researchers’ findings:

  • The study noted that practice was the most common place where youth, high school, and college athletes suffered concussions.
  • At the high school and college level, researchers found that 58% of concussions happened during practice.
  • High school football players experienced the highest rates of concussions.
  • Youth athletes (8th grade and lower) experienced the lowest rates of concussions. Researchers believe the lower risks were due to the fact that youth teams practice only once or twice a week and have fewer players, not necessarily that youth football is safer.

The study provides a great deal of insight into concussions in football. It also speaks volumes about the need to ensure the safety of youth and student athletes whenever they participate in their sport, not simply during games. This need becomes even more important when you consider that experts believe the number of total concussions at these levels of football is likely higher than estimated, as a large number of athletes do not report their injuries.

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and they can have life-long consequences for athletes and their families, particularly when they are not addressed or treated properly. As we’ve covered extensively on our blog, football players commonly face long-term setbacks as a result of concussions and chronic head trauma. Fortunately, many advocates - including our legal team here at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. - work tirelessly to raise awareness about brain injuries in sports and to encourage change that keeps athletes safer.

As part of this mission, CSCS Partner Joseph Cammarata helped draft the DC Youth Athletic Concussion Protection Act, which became law in the District of Columbia in 2011. The Act is designed to protect youth athletes against concussions and to ensure everyone involved in youth and high school sports understand risks and the correct protocol to deal with these injuries. The Act, which you can read more about here, includes concussion protocol that applies to practice and games.

If you have questions about concussions or sport injuries, our personal injury attorneys can help you learn more about your legal rights. We have been named “Preferred Attorneys” for the DC Metro area by the Brain Injury Association of America, and are always available to help victims and families with questions.