MHSAA data reveals sports with highest concussion rates

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The number of reported concussions involving high school athletes is down nearly 10 percent over the previous school year, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

The MHSAA says its member high schools handled 3,580 head injury cases during the 2017-2018 school year – averaging out to 4.8 concussions per school, and 1.3 percent of total student athletes.

This is the third year the MHSAA has collected head injury reports from its member high schools. The association says each year, the number of reported head injuries have declined. Student athletes during last school year had 19.6 percent fewer reported concussions when compared to the first year of the study.

>>PDF: 2017-2018 MHSAA concussion report

Again this year, researchers found concussion reports by girls were three times higher than boys in the same sport. A previous study by Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports concluded girls may be more susceptible to concussions than boys because of “structural differences to the neck and head,” neurological differences in the brain and because girls may be more forthright in reporting concussions.

However, two-thirds of all reported concussions involved boys, who participate in more contact sports.

The sports with the highest rate of head injuries per 1,000 athletes were as follows:

  • 1. Football (11-player and 8-player): 41 injuries  (44 injuries year prior)
  • 2. Ice hockey: 32 injuries (36 injuries year prior)
  • 3. (tie) Girls’ soccer: 25 injuries (28 injuries year prior)
  • 3. (tie) Wrestling: 25 injuries (26 injuries year prior)
  • 5. Girls’ basketball: 22 injuries (23 injuries year prior)
  • 6. Girls’ competitive cheer: 20 injuries (22 injuries year prior)
  • 7. Girls’ lacrosse: 20 injuries (same rate year prior)
  • 8. Boys’ lacrosse: 17 injuries (18 injuries year prior)
  • 9. Girls’ gymnastics: 16 injuries (13 injuries year prior)
  • 10. Boys’ soccer: 12 injuries (14 injuries year prior)

The MHSAA said varsity athletes suffered 56 percent of all reported head injuries, and the majority of concussions happened during competition.

The association emphasizes it will use the data to explore additional options to curb concussions in school sports and make each sport safer while increasing participation.

The MHSAA completed the largest sideline concussion testing pilot program of its kind in spring of last year. The MHSAA was also the first state association to provide secondary medical insurance to student athletes who suffered a head injury while participating in their sport.

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