MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jingzhen (Ginger) Yang, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Dept. of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio 43205
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: From 2009-2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed their state TBI laws, more commonly known as concussion laws, to mitigate severe consequences of concussions.
These laws often include 3 core components:
(1) mandatory removal from play following actual or suspected concussions,
(2) requirements to receive clearance to return to play from a licensed health professional, and
(3) education of coaches, parents, and athletes regarding concussion symptoms and signs.
Our study aimed to evaluate whether the laws achieve the intended impact.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The main findings showed that:
- The rates of new and recurrent concussions initially increase significantly after a law goes into effect. This is likely due to more people – athletes, athletic trainers, coaches, and parents – becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of concussion and actually reporting a potential or actual concussion. Lack of knowledge about concussion signs and symptoms may have resulted in underreporting of concussions during the prelaw period. This trend is consistent across sports in our study and other studies looking at youth sports-related concussions.
- The rate of recurrent concussions shows a significant decline approximately 2 ½ years after the law is in place. This demonstrates that the laws are having an impact. One of the core function of these laws is to reduce the immediate risk of health consequences caused by continued play with concussion or returning to play too soon without full recovery. The decline in recurrent concussion rates in our study is likely the results of the laws requirements of mandatory removal from play or permission requirements to return to play.
- Football had the highest average annual concussion rate, followed by girls’ soccer and boys’ wrestling. Males had a higher average annual concussion rate than females. However, when comparing the rates in gender comparable sports (basketball, soccer, baseball/softball), females had almost double the annual rate of concussions as males. These results are consistent with findings from other studies. It is possible that girls have higher risk of concussions than boys or are more likely to report injuries. Future studies are needed to look specifically at these disparities.