GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) —  A total of 4,452 high school athletes suffered confirmed concussions last season, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Monday, the organization released the results of its first head injury survey of more than 750 member high schools from 2015-2016 sports programs.

The MHSAA said the number of concussions averaged to 5.9 per school.  Approximately two-thirds of confirmed concussions happened during competition.

Not surprisingly, contact sports reported the highest rate of concussions. The sports with the most concussions included:

  • Football (49 concussions per 1,000 players)
  • Ice hockey (37 concussions per 1,000 players)
  • Eight-player football (39 per 1,000 players)
  • Girls’ soccer (18 per 1,000 participants)
  • Girls’ basketball (29 per 1,000 participants)

In several sports, confirmed concussions were reported at a higher rate among girls than boys.  In soccer, 30 in 1,000 girls suffered concussions compared to 18 in 1,000 in boys. In basketball, 29 in 1,000 girls suffered concussions compared to 11 in 1,000 male players. And in softball, 11 in 1,000 for female athletes reported confirmed concussions, compared to 4 in 1,000 male baseball players.>>Inside How safe is your child’s helmet?

“We hope to identify the physiological or social or psychological factors that contribute to this disparity in reporting of head injuries by boys and girls,” said MHSAA Executive Director John E. Roberts.

According to the MHSAA, approximately 28 percent of high school athletes with concussions returned to play in 6-10 days; another 20 percent required 11-15 days of recovery.>>PDF: MHSAA concussion study for 2015-2016

The organization plans to use the data to improve safety guidelines for programs and equipment.  The MHSAA says it’s also working with the Youth Sports Institute at Michigan State University to develop coach education programs using the data.

The inaugural study will also establish MHSAA baselines to see the results of their effort to reduce concussions; data collection is already underway for the new school year.

The MHSAA says its unique sideline concussion testing program for athletes in football and other sports is having a positive impact but long-term funding is an issue as it heads into its second and final year.

Roberts says member schools in its pilot program removed players for possible concussions at a higher rate than schools that were not.

The association started the program last fall with 62 schools. It includes baseline testing of athletes in football and other sports to help with concussion diagnosis.

The association expects to spend $30,000 this year but will have fewer school involved because of expense and commitment.