Advertisement

The Epidemiology of Sport-Related Concussion

  • Daniel H. Daneshvar
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author.
    Affiliations
    Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord Street, B7800, Boston, MA 02118, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Christopher J. Nowinski
    Affiliations
    Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord Street, B7800, Boston, MA 02118, USA

    Sports Legacy Institute, Waltham, MA, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Ann C. McKee
    Affiliations
    Department of Neuropathology, Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 200 Springs Road, 182-B, Bedford, MA 01730, USA

    Departments of Neurology and Pathology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Robert C. Cantu
    Affiliations
    Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord Street, B7800, Boston, MA 02118, USA

    Sports Legacy Institute, Waltham, MA, USA

    Department of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

    Department of Neurosurgery, Emerson Hospital, John Cuming Building, Suite 820, 131 ORNAC, Concord, MA 01742, USA

    Department of Surgery, Emerson Hospital, John Cuming Building, Suite 820, 131 ORNAC, Concord, MA 01742, USA

    Neurologic Sports Injury Center, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for articles by this author

      Keywords

      Each year, an estimated 44 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the United States.
      Report on trends and participation in youth sports.
      In addition, 170 million adults participate in physical activities, including sports.
      National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion. Behavioral risk factor surveillance system: exercise.
      Table 1 presents the number of high school and collegiate athletes participating in each sport from the 1982 to 1983 season through the 2007 to 2008 season.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Many of these activities are associated with an increased risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      In the United States, an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually, associated with 1.365 million emergency room visits and 275,000 hospitalizations annually with associated direct and indirect costs estimated to have been $60 billion in the United States in 2000.
      • Faul M.
      • Xu L.
      • Wald M.M.
      • et al.
      Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths 2002–2006.
      • Finkelstein E.
      • Corso P.
      • Miller T.
      The incidence and economic burden of injuries in the United States.
      Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually.
      • Langlois J.A.
      • Rutland-Brown W.
      • Wald M.M.
      The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview.
      However, these figures vastly underestimate total TBI burden, because many individuals suffering from mild or moderate TBI do not seek medical advice.
      • Faul M.
      • Xu L.
      • Wald M.M.
      • et al.
      Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths 2002–2006.
      • Langlois J.A.
      • Rutland-Brown W.
      • Wald M.M.
      The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview.
      Table 1Athletic participation figures by gender for 1982 to 1983 through 2007 to 2008
      Data from Mueller FO, Cantu RC. Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982–spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research. Chapel Hill (NC): Spring; 2008. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/AllSport.pdf. Accessed August 12, 2010.
      High SchoolCollege
      MenWomenMenWomen
      Baseball10,916,75423,517616,9470
      Basketball13,796,97311,041,039374,600328,237
      Cross country4,546,2183,486,467275,202235,937
      Equestrian621 (2004–2007)4322 (2004–2007)1268 (2003–2007)6245 (2003–2007)
      Field hockey27811,431,6760145,133
      American football35,623,70117,8721,929,0690
      Golf480,989 (2005–2008)199,721 (2005–2008)24,844 (2005–2008)12,197 (2005–2008)
      Gymnastics98,169637,46715,29838,775
      Ice hockey722, 87472,53799,62617,309
      Lacrosse858,712589,973151,309106,153
      Rowing16,147 (2001–2007)17,111 (2001–2007)14,107 (2001–2007)47,310 (2001–2007)
      Skiing154,979 (1994–2007)131,660 (1994–2007)16,92315,052
      Soccer7,175,3415,184,875429,603321,982
      Softball29,7438,141,8720322,777
      Swimming2,242,8142,919,225203,271231,394
      Tennis3,677,1323,832,588199,274203,695
      Track13,266,49710,747,774933,764728,059
      Volleyball536,747 (1994–2007)5,364,475 (1994–2007)15,391 (1994–2007)182,530 (1994–2007)
      Water polo220,778189,12625,54310,266 (1998–2006)
      Wrestling6,235,01646,361175,3530
      Total100,602,98654,067,6235,501,4322,953,051
      A concussion is a TBI induced by an impulsive force transmitted to the head resulting from a direct or indirect impact to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere.
      Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) and the team physician: a consensus statement.
      These concussions may present with a wide range of clinical signs and symptoms, including physical signs (eg, loss of consciousness, amnesia), behavioral changes (eg, irritability), cognitive impairment (eg, slowed reaction times), sleep disturbances (eg, drowsiness), somatic symptoms (eg, headaches), cognitive symptoms (eg, feeling as if in a fog), or emotional symptoms (eg, emotional lability).
      • McCrory P.
      • Meeuwisse W.
      • Johnston K.
      • et al.
      Consensus statement on concussion in sport–the 3rd international conference on concussion in sport, held in Zurich, November 2008.
      Because these impairments in neurologic function often present with a rapid onset and resolve spontaneously, many concussions are neither recognized by athletes nor observed by coaches or athletic trainers.
      • Valovich McLeod T.C.
      • Bay R.C.
      • Heil J.
      • et al.
      Identification of sport and recreational activity concussion history through the preparticipation screening and a symptom survey in young athletes.
      • Delaney J.S.
      • Lacroix V.J.
      • Leclerc S.
      • et al.
      Concussions among university football and soccer players.
      • Field M.
      • Collins M.W.
      • Lovell M.R.
      • et al.
      Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes.
      • Cusimano M.D.
      Canadian minor hockey participants’ knowledge about concussion.
      As a result, a large proportion of concussions are simply unreported.
      This issue is further complicated by the fact that many coaches, athletic trainers, and other sports medicine professionals do not properly use current guidelines for concussion assessment and management.
      • Notebaert A.J.
      • Guskiewicz K.M.
      Current trends in athletic training practice for concussion assessment and management.
      • Covassin T.
      • Elbin 3rd, R.
      • Stiller-Ostrowski J.L.
      Current sport-related concussion teaching and clinical practices of sports medicine professionals.
      To help educate these professionals on proper concussion identification and treatment, the CDC launched the Heads Up program, which includes educational materials aimed at youth coaches, high school coaches, parents, athletes, school administrators, and medical professionals. These resources have been shown to improve high school coaches’ knowledge regarding how to evaluate and properly manage concussions.
      • Sarmiento K.
      • Mitchko J.
      • Klein C.
      • et al.
      Evaluation of the centers for disease control and prevention’s concussion initiative for high school coaches: “Heads Up: concussion in high school sports”.
      • Sawyer R.J.
      • Hamdallah M.
      • White D.
      • et al.
      High school coaches’ assessments, intentions to use, and use of a concussion prevention toolkit: centers for disease control and prevention’s heads up: concussion in high school sports.
      In part because of awareness measures like these, the number of concussions reported to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) through its Injury Surveillance System (ISS) showed an average annual increase of 7.0% from the 1988 to 1989 through the 2003 to 2004 seasons (P<.01).
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Table 2 displays the concussion rate in each sport from the 2005 to 2006 NCAA ISS database. Table 3 displays the rate of concussion stratified into high school and collegiate play and compares concussion rate in practice versus competition. Additionally, the concussion rate observed through the ISS doubled from 0.17 per 1000 athlete exposures (A-E; with an exposure defined as one athlete playing in one game or practice) in 1988 to 1989 to 0.34 per 1000 A-Es in 2003 to 2004.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      This increased rate of concussion may also be caused, in part, by an increase in the true rate of concussion over the past several decades. However, even with new resources, proper identification of concussion remains a problem.
      • Sarmiento K.
      • Mitchko J.
      • Klein C.
      • et al.
      Evaluation of the centers for disease control and prevention’s concussion initiative for high school coaches: “Heads Up: concussion in high school sports”.
      Many of these concussions could be prevented outright with proper medical care and safety precautions, such as implementation of safer rules, proper conditioning, and standardized coaching techniques.
      Table 2Frequency and rates of concussion in NCAA from 1988 to 1989 through 2003 to 2004
      Data from Hootman JM, Dick R, Agel J. Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives. J Athl Train 2007;42(2):311–9.
      Percentage of All Injuries (%)Injury Rate per 1000 Athletic Exposures95% Confidence Interval
      Men’s baseball2.50.070.06, 0.08
      Men’s basketball3.20.160.14, 0.17
      Women’s basketball4.70.220.20, 0.17
      Women’s field hockey3.90.180.15, 0.21
      Men’s football6.00.370.36, 0.38
      Women’s gymnastics2.30.160.12, 0.20
      Men’s ice hockey7.90.410.37, 0.44
      Women’s ice hockey
      Data collection for women’s ice hockey began in 2000 to 2001.
      18.30.910.71, 1.11
      Men’s lacrosse5.60.250.23, 0.29
      Women’s lacrosse6.30.250.22, 0.28
      Men’s soccer3.90.280.25, 0.30
      Women’s soccer5.30.410.38, 0.44
      Women’s softball4.30.140.12, 0.16
      Women’s volleyball2.00.090.07, 0.10
      Men’s wrestling3.30.250.22, 0.27
      Men’s spring football5.60.540.50, 0.58
      Total concussions5.00.280.27, 0.28
      a Data collection for women’s ice hockey began in 2000 to 2001.
      Table 3Concussion rates in US high school and collegiate athletes in practice and competition, 2005 to 2006
      Data from Gessel LM, Fields SK, Collins CL, et al. Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes. J Athl Train 2007;42(4):495–503.
      Rates more than 1000

      Athlete Exposures
      Overall Rate Comparison

      Collegiate vs High School
      SportDivisionPracticeCompetitionOverallRate Ratio95% CIP value
      FootballHigh school0.211.550.47
      Collegiate0.393.020.611.311.09, 1.58<0.01
      Men’s soccerHigh school0.040.590.22
      Collegiate0.241.380.492.261.43, 3.57<0.01
      Women’s soccerHigh school0.090.970.36
      Collegiate0.251.800.631.761.21, 2.57<0.01
      VolleyballHigh school0.050.050.05
      Collegiate0.210.130.183.631.39, 9.44<0.01
      Men’s basketballHigh school0.060.110.07
      Collegiate0.220.450.273.652.01, 6.63<0.01
      Women’s basketballHigh school0.060.600.21
      Collegiate0.310.850.431.981.31, 3.01<0.01
      WrestlingHigh school0.130.320.18
      Collegiate0.351.000.422.341.26, 4.340.01
      BaseballHigh school0.030.080.05
      Collegiate0.030.230.091.880.79, 4.460.22
      SoftballHigh school0.090.040.07
      Collegiate0.070.370.192.611.17, 5.850.03
      Men’s sport totalHigh school0.130.610.25
      Collegiate0.301.260.451.781.52, 2.08<0.01
      Women’s sport totalHigh school0.070.420.18
      Collegiate0.230.740.382.041.59, 2.64<0.01
      Overall totalHigh school0.110.530.23
      Collegiate0.281.020.431.861.63, 2.12<0.01
      Collegiate data provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System.
      High School data provided by the High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System.
      Abbreviation: CI, confidence interval.

      Sport-specific findings

      American Football

      Participation

      Of all sports played in the United States, American football is the sport associated with the greatest number of traumatic brain injuries, but it also has the largest number of participants. As shown in Table 1, between the 1982 to 1983 season and the 2007 to 2008 season, a total of 35,641,573 high school athletes and 1,929,069 collegiate athletes competed in football.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.

      Mueller FO, Colgate B. Annual survey of football Injury research. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2010. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

      For purposes of this article, an athlete is defined as one player playing one season. Because many high school and college players play multiple years of football, the number of unique participants is much lower. However, that data is not available. Currently, the National Federation of State High School Associations estimates that there are approximately 1,500,000 high school, junior high school, and nonfederation school football participants. The NCAA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the National Junior College Athletic Association estimate that there are currently 75,000 collegiate football participants, including estimates of athletes at schools not associated with any national organization. A total of 225,000 participants are estimated to compete in fully padded, organized, nonprofessional football (sandlot) and professional football. Combined, these figures indicate that approximately 1,800,000 total athletes participated in football in the United States during the 2009 football season.

      Mueller FO, Colgate B. Annual survey of football Injury research. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2010. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

      Injuries

      Because of the aforementioned difficulties in examining concussion specifically, total incidence of catastrophic head injuries may be a better comparator for injury trends over time. Catastrophic head injury is defined as a head injury caused by direct contact during competition resulting in a fatal, nonfatal permanent, or serious nonpermanent injury. Since the 1982 to 1983 season, there have been 133 football players with incomplete neurologic recovery from catastrophic head injury. A total of 120 of these injuries occurred in high school athletes, 11 occurred in college participants, 2 occurred in sandlot players, and none occurred in professional football players. In 2009, all 9 cerebral injuries with incomplete recovery were in high school athletes.

      Mueller FO, Cantu RC. Catastrophic football injuries annual report. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2009. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

      Although there have been significant reductions in these injuries following rule changes in the 1970s, the rate of head injuries has been increasing in recent years. Over the 10-year span from 2000 to 2009, there was an average of 6.2 cerebral injuries annually with incomplete recovery in football. The prior 10 years averaged 4.5 cerebral injuries annually. The 10 cerebral injuries in 2008 and 9 in 2006 and 2009 were the highest incidences since 1984.

      Mueller FO, Cantu RC. Catastrophic football injuries annual report. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2009. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

      Because concussion awareness and diagnosis has changed significantly over the past few decades, there is wide variability in the literature on the rate of concussion in football athletes. One study evaluating concussions reported to medical professionals over a 3-season span from 1995 to 1997 found that high school football players had a rate of 3.66 concussions per 100 player seasons, meaning that there were 3.66 concussions every season for every 100 athletes.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      However, a postseason retrospective survey of 233 football players after the 1996 to 1997 season found that 110 (47.2%) reported having experienced at least 1 concussion. Multiple concussions were noted in 81 (34.9%) of the athletes.
      • Langburt W.
      • Cohen B.
      • Akhthar N.
      • et al.
      Incidence of concussion in high school football players of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
      Additionally, the NCAA ISS found a concussion rate of 0.37 per 1000 A-E (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.36, 0.38) from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Recent studies indicate even higher rates of reported concussions in football players. In one study, examining the concussions reported by 425 athletic trainers from 100 US high schools and 180 US colleges, the rates of concussion were compared between high school and collegiate athletes. The high school athletic trainers reported 201 concussions over the 2005 to 2006 season, which yielded a concussion rate of 0.21 per 1000 A-E in practice and 1.55 concussions per 1000 A-E in competitions. Together, these rates averaged 0.47 per 1000 A-E overall. As expected, each game carries a statistically significant increased risk of concussion with an injury proportion ratio (PR) of 1.39 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.91). A total of 245 concussions were reported in the collegiate athletes, resulting in a concussion injury rate of 0.39 per 1000 A-E in practice, and a rate of 3.02 concussions per 1000 A-E in competitions (resulting in an overall rate of 0.61 per 1000 A-E).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      These results indicate a statistically significant increase in the rate of diagnosed concussions between high school and collegiate athletes. Because college athletes tend to have greater access to and more interaction with medical professionals, the increase may be because of medical infrastructure rather than differences in the number of actual concussions sustained.
      The same study evaluated the types of collisions that resulted in concussions and found that tackling and being tackled were responsible for 67.6% of the concussions observed in these football players.
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussive impacts may produce different signs based on the age of the athlete. Although the high school and college groups did not differ in presentation of symptoms, such as confusion or retrograde amnesia, college athletes did experience a high rate of loss of consciousness (34%) compared with the high school athletes (11%). Despite this lower rate of loss of consciousness, studies have shown that high school athletes who have experienced a concussion show worse recovery, in the form of prolonged memory dysfunction, as compared with concussed collegiate athletes. College athletes, despite having more concussions throughout the season, typically recover and match control subjects by day 3 following the concussive blow. However, the high school athletes continue to perform significantly worse than control subjects for up to 7 days following the injury (F = 2.90; P<.005).
      • Field M.
      • Collins M.W.
      • Lovell M.R.
      • et al.
      Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes.
      This age-based disparity in performance on neuropsychological testing is not correlated with self-report of postconcussion symptoms.
      • Field M.
      • Collins M.W.
      • Lovell M.R.
      • et al.
      Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes.
      Of note is the fact that high school athletes appear to recover more poorly as compared with collegiate athletes, despite the latter typically incurring more acutely severe injuries as a result of being bigger, faster, and stronger. There are several possible explanations for this disparity between high school and collegiate football players: the brain may not yet be fully developed, resulting in a lower injury threshold; the blood vessels may tear more easily in the less developed brain; the skull is thinner, which could provide less protection to the brain; there may be fewer medical staff members available at high school games; or poor body control and technique might make younger players more susceptible to brain injury following a poorly executed tackle.
      • Boden B.P.
      • Tacchetti R.L.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • et al.
      Catastrophic head injuries in high school and college football players.
      In fact, one explanation may be that for various reasons, including having weaker necks, high school football players were found to sustain more absolute force to brain per hit while playing football that college athletes.
      • Broglio S.P.
      • Sosnoff J.J.
      • Shin S.
      • et al.
      Head impacts during high school football: a biomechanical assessment.
      However, football players who have a history of previous concussions are at a greatly increased risk of experiencing future concussions as compared with athletes without a history of such impacts.
      • Guskiewicz K.M.
      • McCrea M.
      • Marshall S.W.
      • et al.
      Cumulative effects associated with recurrent concussion in collegiate football players: the NCAA Concussion Study.

      Baseball/Softball

      Participation

      Between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2008, 10,916,754 high school men and 23,517 high school women competed in baseball. An additional 616,947 men competed at the collegiate level.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Approximately 419,000 men and 900 women compete in baseball at the high school level annually.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      A similar number of athletes competed in softball. Between the 1982 to 1983 season and the 2007 to 2008 season, approximately 30,000 men and 8.1 million women competed in high school softball, and an additional 323,000 women competed at the collegiate level.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Annually, approximately 313,000 female and 1,100 male softball players compete at the high school level.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.

      Injuries

      As previously addressed, early reports of concussion incidence were complicated because of underdiagnosis by trainers, coaches, and medical professionals. From 1995 to 1997, 246 certified athletic trainers reported a rate of 0.23 concussions per 100 player seasons in high school baseball players, meaning that there were 0.23 concussions every season for every 100 athletes.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      A 15-year survey of the NCAA ISS from the 1988 to 1989 academic year through 2003 to 2004 academic year found that the rate of concussion was 0.07 per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.06, 0.08).
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      An analysis of both high school and collegiate athletes during the 2005 to 2006 season, which stratified rates of injury by practice and competitive play, found that high school baseball players had a rate of concussion of 0.03 per 1000 A-E in practice and 0.08 per 1000 A-E in games (0.05 overall). This study reported similar findings to the NCAA ISS, with collegiate athletes experiencing 0.03 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice and 0.23 per 1000 A-E in games (0.09 overall).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussions account for 2.9% of all injuries that occur in practice and 4.2% of all injuries occurring in games (injury PR = 3.8, P<.01).
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      In softball, from the same group of athletic trainers studied from 1995 to 1997, a rate of 0.46 concussions per 100 player seasons was reported.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      A more recent study analyzing high school softball athletes over the 2005 to 2006 season found a concussion rate of 0.09 injuries per 1000 A-E during practice and 0.04 injuries per 1000 A-E during games (overall 0.07 concussions per 1000 A-E).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      This high school concussion rate is slightly less than that observed in college. The NCAA ISS survey reported a concussion rate of 0.14 per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.12, 0.16) in collegiate athletes between the 1988 to 1989 season and the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Furthermore, over the 2005 to 2006 season, collegiate athletes experienced a rate of 0.07 concussions per 1000 A-E in practices, and 0.37 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (overall = 0.19).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussions occurring in practice accounted for 4.1% of all softball injuries; whereas, concussions in games constituted 6.4% of all softball injuries (injury PR = 2.5, P<.01).
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      Although differing in form, softball and baseball are related sports with similar methods of play. As such, a recent study comparing softball athletes to baseball athletes in high school found that players in both sports experienced similar rates of concussion (0.07 concussions and 0.05 concussions per 1000 A-Es, respectively; relative risk [RR] = 1.48; 95% CI = 0.60, 3.63; P = .53). However, concussions represented a significantly greater proportion of total injuries in softball players than in baseball players (5.5% and 2.9%, respectively; injury PR = 1.91; 95% CI = 1.81, 2.01; P<.01). Additionally, the concussive injury in baseball players was more typically caused by contact with the ball than in softball players (91.4% and 59.1%, respectively; injury PR = 1.55; 95% CI = 1.50, 1.59; P<.01). Therefore, as expected, concussions in baseball players were more associated with being hit by a pitch than in softball players (50.6% and 6.9%, respectively; injury PR = 7.32; 95% CI = 6.44, 8.32; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      These differences in mechanism of injury manifest in differing rates of recovery between the two sports. By 6 days after injury, symptoms were resolved in slightly more of the softball players than the baseball players (68.8% and 64.2%, respectively; injury PR = 1.07; 95% CI = 1.03, 1.11; P<.01). Despite this delayed course of symptom resolution, a greater proportion of baseball players versus softball players returned to play within 6 days (52.9% and 15.5%, respectively; injury PR = 3.42; 95% CI = 3.13, 3.73; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.

      Basketball

      Participation

      One of the most popular sports across both genders, basketball was played by approximately 13.8 million high school men and 11 million high school women between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2008.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      An additional 375,000 men and 328,00 women competed in college.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.

      Injuries

      In a survey of high school athletic trainers evaluating athletes over the 1995 to 1997 seasons, men experienced a rate of 0.75 concussions per 100 player seasons. This rate was slightly less than the rate of 1.04 concussions per 100 player seasons experienced by women.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      In college athletes, a 15-year analysis of the NCAA ISS found that men had a rate of 0.16 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.14, 0.17) as compared with a rate of 0.22 concussions per 1000 A-E in women (95% CI = 0.20, 0.24).
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      An analysis over the 2005 to 2006 season in high school showed a similar relationship between male and female basketball players, with men experiencing a lower concussion rate than women (0.07 and 0.21 concussions per 1000 A-Es, respectively; RR = 2.93; 95% CI = 1.64, 5.24; P<.01). This difference was largely accounted for by concussions during competition. Men and women both had a rate of 0.06 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice; whereas, women had a rate of 0.60 concussions per 1000 A-E in games as compared with 0.11 in men. In college basketball, men experienced fewer concussions in both practices (0.22 versus 0.31 concussions per 1000 A-E) and games (0.45 versus 0.85 concussions per 1000 A-E).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussions represented a greater proportion of the total injuries experienced by women as compared with men (11.7% and 3.8%, respectively; injury PR = 3.09; 95% CI = 2.98, 3.20; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      In men’s high school basketball, concussions accounted for 4.1% of all the injuries sustained during practices and 5.0% of those sustained during games; this difference was not significant.
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      Women, however, experienced 3.4 times the risk of suffering a concussion during a game versus practice, with concussions accounting for 4.7% of all injuries during practice and 8.5% during games.
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      This relationship between practice and games was confirmed in another study, indicating that women have a significant increase in risk at games (injury PR = 5.82; 95% CI = 2.06, 16.49), but men had no significant difference.
      • Rechel J.A.
      • Yard E.E.
      • Comstock R.D.
      An epidemiologic comparison of high school sports injuries sustained in practice and competition.
      While playing basketball, concussions are associated with different activities in men than in women. Women receive a greater proportion of their concussions while ball handling/dribbling (19.0% versus 10.4%; injury PR = 1.83; 95% CI = 1.65, 2.02; P = .01) and while defending (22.2% versus 13.4%; injury PR = 1.66; 95% CI = 1.52, 1.81; P<.01). Men, on the other hand, experience a greater proportion of their concussions chasing loose balls (26.0% versus 10.6%; injury PR = 2.46; 95% CI = 2.28, 2.64; P<.01) and rebounding (30.5% versus 16.6%; injury PR = 1.83; 95% CI = 1.72, 1.95; P<.01). A higher proportion of men than women experienced a concussion from collision with the playing surface (34.0% and 22.0%, respectively; injury PR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.46, 1.63; P<.01). Some women, but no men, reported a concussion caused by contact with the ball (6.0%).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Male and female basketball players also have differing rates of symptom resolution and return to play. Two days after concussion, significantly more men returned to play than women (39% and 15%, respectively; injury PR = 38.21; 95% CI = 30.44, 47.96; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.

      Cheerleading

      Participation

      The number of athletes participating in cheerleading is increasing as the sport becomes more popular. Annually, there are currently an estimated 3.5 million cheerleading participants who are at least 6 years of age. Based on these estimates, the number of cheerleading participants in the United States has increased 18% since 1990.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982–Spring 2003: National center for catastrophic injury research.

      Injuries

      In addition to becoming increasingly popular, cheerleading has become increasingly associated with risk for catastrophic head and spine injury, especially for the flier.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      In the past 30 years, cheerleading has transitioned from principally using toe-touch jumps, splits, and claps, to increasingly incorporating routines, such as gymnastic tumbling runs, human pyramids, lifts, catches, and tosses.
      • Giannone L.
      • Williamson T.L.
      A philosophy of safety awareness.
      These moves are associated with increasing risk for injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that cheerleading injuries had resulted in an estimated 4954 hospital emergency room visits in 1980. This number rose to 21,906 by 1999 and reached 28,414 in 2004. In 2007, the numbers decreased slightly to 26,786, but remained 5 times higher than the number of emergency room visits 27 years earlier.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      • Shields B.J.
      • Smith G.A.
      Cheerleading-related injuries to children 5 to 18 years of age: United States, 1990–2002.
      • Shields B.J.
      • Smith G.A.
      Cheerleading-related injuries in the United States: a prospective surveillance study.
      Many of these injuries are to the head and neck. Many result in concussions.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      A study looking at all injuries in North Carolina high school competitive cheerleaders from 1996 to 1999 found that 6.3% of all injuries were concussions.
      • Schulz M.R.
      • Marshall S.W.
      • Yang J.
      • et al.
      A prospective cohort study of injury incidence and risk factors in North Carolina high school competitive cheerleaders.
      In 2006, head injuries were associated with 1070 concussions. In 2007, head injuries were associated with 783 concussions.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      A 1-year study of 143 cheerleading teams from 2006 to 2007 found that the majority of concussions and closed head injuries occurred in practices rather than athletic events (82% and 18%, respectively). Additionally, college cheerleaders were significantly more likely to experience a concussion or closed head injury than were cheerleaders of different levels (P = .02; odds ratio [OR] = 3.10; 95% CI = 1.20, 8.06).
      • Shields B.J.
      • Fernandez S.A.
      • Smith G.A.
      Epidemiology of cheerleading stunt-related injuries in the United States.

      Gymnastics

      Participation

      From the fall of 1982 through spring 2008, nearly 100,000 men and 640,000 women competed in high school gymnastics. An additional 15,000 men and 40,000 women competed collegiately.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Approximately 3800 men and 24,500 women participate in gymnastics annually.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.

      Injuries

      A study of high school gymnasts from 1990 to 2005 found an incidence of concussion and closed head injury of 1.7%. These concussions and closed head injuries were more likely to occur while individuals were performing headstands than among individuals performing other skills (RR = 7.14; 95% CI = 3.15–16.19; P<.002). As the age of the athlete increased, the frequency of concussions and closed head injuries decreased.
      • Singh S.
      • Smith G.A.
      • Fields S.K.
      • et al.
      Gymnastics-related injuries to children treated in emergency departments in the United States, 1990–2005.
      From the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season, the rate of concussions reported to the ISS was 0.16 per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.12, 0.20).
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.

      Ice/Field Hockey

      Participation

      Total concussions in ice hockey athletes are low because of lower participation in ice hockey at the high school and collegiate level. Approximately 723,000 men and 72,500 women competed in high school ice hockey between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2008. Approximately 100,000 additional men and 17,000 additional women competed in college.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      An average of approximately 27,800 men and 2800 women play ice hockey each year.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      Field hockey is also associated with few total concussions, again because of lower athletic participation. Between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2008, approximately 3000 men and 1.43 million women competed in high school field hockey; whereas, 145,000 additional women competed collegiately.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.

      Injuries

      Both forms of hockey are associated with a high rate of concussions, considering their comparatively lower participation rate. According to the information reported to the ISS from 1988 through 2004, the rate of concussions in male collegiate athletes was 0.41 per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.37, 0.44), compared with 0.91 per 1000 A-E in female collegiate athletes (95% CI = 0.71, 1.11).
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Concussions in hockey players account for 6.3% of practice injuries and 10.3% of game injuries (injury PR = 15.5; P<.01).
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      Although the relationship between age and concussion in hockey players remains unclear, recent evidence in youth hockey players indicates that players in Bantam (aged 13–14 years) and Pee Wee (aged 11–12 years) had a higher risk of concussion (RR = 4.04 and 3.14, respectively) when compared with players in Atom (aged 9–10 years).
      • Emery C.A.
      • Hagel B.
      • Decloe M.
      • et al.
      Risk factors for injury and severe injury in youth ice hockey: a systematic review of the literature.
      • Emery C.A.
      • Meeuwisse W.H.
      Injury rates, risk factors, and mechanisms of injury in minor hockey.
      There is also a question as to what extent league rules, such as body checking, are associated with concussion. A meta-analysis of 4 studies evaluating the effect of body-checking rules found that body checking in a league is associated with an increased risk of concussions (OR =1.71; 95% CI = 1.2, 2.44).
      • Emery C.A.
      • Hagel B.
      • Decloe M.
      • et al.
      Risk factors for injury and severe injury in youth ice hockey: a systematic review of the literature.
      • Emery C.A.
      • Meeuwisse W.H.
      Injury rates, risk factors, and mechanisms of injury in minor hockey.
      • Macpherson A.
      • Rothman L.
      • Howard A.
      Body-checking rules and childhood injuries in ice hockey.
      • Hagel B.E.
      • Marko J.
      • Dryden D.
      • et al.
      Effect of body checking on injury rates among minor ice hockey players.
      Although there are some similarities between ice and field hockey, the proportion of concussions was higher in ice hockey players (3.9%) than in field hockey players (1.4%) (injury PR = 2.75; 95% CI = 1.17, 6.46).
      • Yard E.E.
      • Comstock R.D.
      Injuries sustained by pediatric ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey athletes presenting to United States emergency departments, 1990–2003.
      In a survey of athletic trainers from 1995 to 1997, concussions in high school field hockey were reported at a rate of 0.46 per 100 player seasons.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      In college, the NCAA ISS reported that female field hockey athletes had a rate of 0.18 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.15, 0.21) from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Concussions accounted for a higher proportion of all injuries in games as compared with those in practices (7.2% and 3.7%, respectively; RR 6.4).
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.

      Lacrosse

      Participation

      From the fall of 1982 through the spring of 2008, approximately 860,000 men and 587,000 women played high school lacrosse, with an additional 151,000 men and 106,000 women competing at the college level.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      High school lacrosse has approximately 33,000 male and 22,000 female participants each year. College participation figures reveal that there are approximately 5819 men and 4000 women lacrosse players each year.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.

      Injuries

      Although lacrosse is not associated with a large number of total concussions, the rate of concussion is high when compared with other sports. The rate of concussion in collegiate athletes reported to the NCAA ISS was 0.26 per 1000 A-E in men (95% CI = 0.23, 0.39) and 0.25 per 1000 A-E in women (95% CI = 0.22, 0.28) from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      Concussions accounted for 8.6% of all injuries in lacrosse competitions, with athletes 9 times more likely to experience a concussion in a game as compared with practice (1.08 versus 0.12 injuries per 1000 A-E; injury PR = 9.0; 95% CI = 7.1, 11.5). 78.4% of concussions resulted from a collision with another person; whereas, 10.4% resulted from collision with a stick.
      • Dick R.
      • Romani W.A.
      • Agel J.
      • et al.
      Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s lacrosse injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004.
      Another study stratified concussion rate by gender and confirmed that games are associated with significantly more concussions than practice in both genders (injury PR = 13.32 in men and 6.3 in women; P<.01).
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      Concussions accounted for 9.8% of all female injuries, and women had approximately 5 times the rate of concussion during games as compared with practices (0.70 and 0.15 injuries per 1000 A-E, respectively; injury PR = 4.6; 95% CI = 3.5, 6.0). More than half the time, the concussions in female lacrosse players resulted from contact with a stick.
      • Dick R.
      • Lincoln A.E.
      • Agel J.
      • et al.
      Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate women’s lacrosse injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004.
      Although the rate of concussions has increased dramatically in many sports, some have argued that this observation in men’s lacrosse may be, in part, explained by the introduction of a new helmet. One study compared the rate of concussion in the years immediately following the helmet’s introduction (1996–1997 to 2003–2004) to the preceding years (1988–1989 to 1995–1996). In practices, the rate increased by 0.14 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.09, 0.19; P<.01). In games, the rate increased by 0.84 (95% CI = 0.52, 1.16; P<.01).
      • Dick R.
      • Romani W.A.
      • Agel J.
      • et al.
      Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s lacrosse injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004.
      However, this increase is certainly caused, in part, by improved detection and diagnosis of concussion during that time frame.

      Soccer

      Participation

      In the United States, soccer is growing in popularity. Between 1982 and 2008, approximately 7.2 million men and 5.2 million women played soccer at the high school level. An additional 430,000 men and 322,000 women competed in college.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.

      Injuries

      In a study of athletic trainers from 1995 to 1997, the rate of concussions in male soccer players was found to be 0.92 injuries per 100 player seasons.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      According to data reported to the NCAA ISS, men in college had a rate of 0.28 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.25, 0.30) over the time period from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      One study examining the 2005 to 2006 season found that high school men experienced a rate of 0.04 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice and 0.59 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (0.22 concussions per 1000 A-E overall). It was reported that college soccer players experienced 0.24 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice and 1.38 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (0.49 concussions per 1000 A-E overall).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Significantly more concussions occurred in games than in practice (injury PR = 6.94; 95% CI = 2.01, 23.95).
      • Rechel J.A.
      • Yard E.E.
      • Comstock R.D.
      An epidemiologic comparison of high school sports injuries sustained in practice and competition.
      Concussions in male soccer players typically occur as a result of head to head collisions in the act of heading the ball (40.5%). As expected, concussions were responsible for 64.1% of injuries that occurred while heading the ball. Another common cause of concussions in soccer players was contact with another person (85.3%). Goalies were significantly more likely to experience a concussion; 21.7% of all injuries to goalkeepers were concussions as compared with 11.1% of all injuries to other players (injury PR = 1.96; 95% CI = 1.92, 2.00; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      In the aforementioned study of athletic trainers from 1995 to 1997, the rate of concussions in women was 1.14 injuries per 100 player seasons.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      According to data from the NCAA ISS, women in college had a rate of 0.41 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.38, 0.44) from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      In the previously mentioned study of the 2005 to 2006 season, high school women were shown to have a rate of 0.09 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice and 0.97 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (0.36 concussions per 1000 A-E overall). In college, female soccer players experienced 0.25 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice and 2.80 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (0.63 concussions per 1000 A-E overall).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussions accounted for 11.4% of the injuries experienced by women during games and 2.4% of all the injuries experienced during practice.
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      Like men, women were significantly more likely to experience concussions in games as opposed to practice (injury PR = 16.7; P<.01).
      • Rechel J.A.
      • Yard E.E.
      • Comstock R.D.
      An epidemiologic comparison of high school sports injuries sustained in practice and competition.
      As with men, concussions in female soccer players typically occur as a result of head-to-head collisions while heading the ball (36.7%). Women experienced fewer concussions as a result of contact with another person (58.3%; injury PR = 1.46; 95% CI = 1.45, 1.48; P<.01). On the other hand, women experienced more concussions than men as a result of contact with the ground (22.6% and 6.0%, respectively; injury PR = 3.77; 95% CI = 3.56, 4.00; P<.01) and contact with the soccer ball (18.3% and 8.2%, respectively; injury PR = 3.68; 95% CI = 3.45, 3.92; P<.01).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      There appear to be differences in the rate of recovery from concussion between high school and collegiate athletes. College athletes, despite experiencing a higher rate of loss of consciousness, recovered by the third day after sustaining a concussion. An athlete’s self-report of postconcussion symptoms may not be associated with return to baseline performance on neuropsychologic testing, as most high school athletes reported recovery by the fifth day after sustaining a concussion, but experienced neuropsychological deficits 7 days following the injury.
      • Field M.
      • Collins M.W.
      • Lovell M.R.
      • et al.
      Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes.

      Skiing/Snowboarding

      Participation

      Between 1994 and 2007, approximately 155,000 men and 132,000 women participated in organized skiing in high school. An additional 17,000 men and 15,000 women skied in college during that time.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Annually, approximately 580 women participate in college skiing.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      However, the majority of skiers and snowboarders are taking part recreationally, not as part of an organized sport.

      Injuries

      An estimated 15% to 20% of the approximately 600,000 annually reported skiing and snowboarding injuries are head injuries.
      • Mueller B.A.
      • Cummings P.
      • Rivara F.P.
      • et al.
      Injuries of the head, face, and neck in relation to ski helmet use.
      Most of these head injuries occurred early in the season and were mild TBI (69.4%) as opposed to severe TBI, based on the Glascow Coma Scale.
      • Levy A.S.
      • Hawkes A.P.
      • Hemminger L.M.
      • et al.
      An analysis of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders.
      Concussions represent 9.6% of all injuries in skiers, 14.7% of all injuries in snowboarders, and 5.7% of all injuries in snowbladers.
      • Bridges E.J.
      • Rouah F.
      • Johnston K.M.
      Snowblading injuries in Eastern Canada.
      A comparison of skiers and snowboarders found that both have similar rates of head injury (0.005 and 0.004 per 1000 participants, respectively), but skiers had a greater proportion of concussions (60% versus 21%); whereas, snowboarders had a much higher proportion of severe brain injuries (29% versus 15%).
      • Hentschel S.
      • Hader W.
      • Boyd M.
      Head injuries in skiers and snowboarders in British Columbia.
      Additionally, there is evidence that more male than female skiers tend to be injured as a result of collisions with trees; whereas, more female than male skiers tend to be injured as a result of collisions with other skiers.
      • Levy A.S.
      • Hawkes A.P.
      • Hemminger L.M.
      • et al.
      An analysis of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders.
      • Bridges E.J.
      • Rouah F.
      • Johnston K.M.
      Snowblading injuries in Eastern Canada.
      Male skiers are more likely to sustain a head injury than female skiers (OR = 2.23).
      • Levy A.S.
      • Hawkes A.P.
      • Hemminger L.M.
      • et al.
      An analysis of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders.
      • Bridges E.J.
      • Rouah F.
      • Johnston K.M.
      Snowblading injuries in Eastern Canada.

      Volleyball

      Participation

      Between 1994 and 2007, approximately 540,000 men and 5.4 million women played volleyball in high school, with another 15,000 men and 182,500 women playing volleyball in college.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.

      Injuries

      A study of athletic trainers from 1995 to 1997 found that high school volleyball players had a concussion rate of 0.14 injuries per 100 player seasons.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      Data reported to the NCAA ISS found that college volleyball athletes had a concussion rate of 0.09 per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.07, 0.10) from the 1988 to 1989 season through the 2003 to 2004 season.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      One study reported that concussions account for 1.3% of all injuries reported in volleyball players during practices and 4.1% of those reported during games. In the same study, volleyball athletes were at a 3.8 times greater risk of sustaining a concussion during a game than a practice session.
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.

      Wrestling

      Participation

      Like hockey, wrestling has low participation in comparison to the number of concussions sustained by wrestlers. Approximately 6.2 million men and 46,000 women wrestled in high school, and 175,000 additional men in college, from the fall of 1982 through the spring of 2008.
      • Cantu R.C.
      • Mueller F.O.
      The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
      Annually, there is an average of approximately 239,000 male and 1700 female high school wrestlers, and 6700 male college wrestlers.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.

      Injuries

      High school wrestlers accounted for the greatest number of direct injuries in all winter sports.
      • Mueller F.O.
      • Cantu R.C.
      Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
      High school athletic trainers, from 1995 to 1997, reported a concussion rate of 1.58 injuries per 100 player seasons.
      • Powell J.W.
      • Barber-Foss K.D.
      Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
      A study of high school athletic trainers from the 2005 to 2006 season found that concussions occurred at a rate of 0.13 concussions per 1000 A-E in practice, as compared with 0.32 per 1000 A-E concussions in games (0.18 per 1000 A-E overall).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      The NCAA ISS determined that college wrestlers experienced 0.25 concussions per 1000 A-E (95% CI = 0.22, 0.27) from 1988 to 1989 through the 2003 to 2004.
      • Hootman J.M.
      • Dick R.
      • Agel J.
      Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
      In 2005 to 2006, collegiate data was further analyzed and wrestlers were found to have experienced 0.35 concussion per 1000 A-E in practice and 1.00 concussions per 1000 A-E in games (0.42 concussions per 1000 A-E, overall).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
      Concussions accounted for 6.6% of all injuries that occurred during matches and 4.5% of those injuries that were reported during practice.
      • Covassin T.
      • Swanik C.B.
      • Sachs M.L.
      Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
      In wrestling, takedowns were the most common cause of concussions (42.6%) and were more likely to lead to a concussion than other wrestling maneuvers (7.6% versus 4.5%; injury PR = 1.69; 95% CI = 1.61, 1.78; P<.01). The majority of these concussions occurred as result of contact with another person (60.1%); whereas, the remainder occurred as a result of contact with the ground (26.9%).
      • Gessel L.M.
      • Fields S.K.
      • Collins C.L.
      • et al.
      Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.

      Discussion

      The rate of concussion has been increasing steadily over the past two decades. This trend is likely caused by improvement in the detection of concussion, but may also reflect an increase in the true number of concussive impacts occurring. As athletes get bigger, stronger, and faster, it is logical that the forces associated with their collisions would also increase in magnitude. It is important to realize that there is currently no effective headgear that prevents concussions; therefore, as the number of forceful collisions increase, the number of concussions would be expected to increase.
      In general, athletes tend to have a higher risk of concussion in competition as compared with practice. However, given the higher frequency of practices compared with games, and the resulting total number of concussions occurring in practice, one way to quickly and drastically reduce a sport’s concussion risk would be to limit unnecessary contact in practice. The majority of concussions in high school athletes resulted from participation in football, followed by women’s soccer, men’s soccer, and women’s basketball.
      Within a given sport, females tend to report higher rates of concussion than males. Within comparable sports, evidence indicates that female athletes may be at a greater risk of concussions than male athletes.
      • Dick R.W.
      Is there a gender difference in concussion incidence and outcomes?.
      The evidence also indicates that, in general, concussions result in cognitive impairment in females more frequently than in males.
      • Broshek D.K.
      • Kaushik T.
      • Freeman J.R.
      • et al.
      Sex differences in outcome following sports-related concussion.
      These variations may be caused by biomechanical differences, such as differences in body mass, head mass, or neck strength. They may also be explained by cultural differences, such as reluctance among males to report injury, and physiologic differences, including hormones.
      In general, there are simple things that can be done to reduce the incidence of concussion in sports. Preparticipation examinations should be mandatory. If a physician or coach has questions about an athlete’s readiness to compete, the athlete’s safety should not be risked. At this session, or at a stand-alone meeting, concussion education should be afforded to all athletes, especially for those competing in a collision or contact sport. Proper strength and conditioning, especially focused on strengthening the muscles of the neck, is a suitable way to limit the forces experienced by the head. Properly trained coaches, athletic trainers, and medical staff are on the front line in concussion education, diagnosis, and management, and are crucial to reducing the incidence and severity of concussions. Finally, quality officiating can help to identify potentially dangerous situations and ensure the activity does not result in injury.

      Summary

      Concussions and head injuries may never be completely eliminated from sports. However, with better data comes an improved understanding of the types of actions and activities that typically result in concussions. With this knowledge can come improved techniques and rule changes to minimize the rate and severity of concussions in sports. This article identifies the factors that affect concussion rate.

      References

      1. Report on trends and participation in youth sports.
        National Council Of Youth Sports, Stuart (FL)2001 (Available at:) (Accessed August 12, 2010)
      2. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion. Behavioral risk factor surveillance system: exercise.
        CDC, 2006
        • Cantu R.C.
        • Mueller F.O.
        The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports.
        Br J Sports Med. 2009; 43: 981-986
        • Mueller F.O.
        • Cantu R.C.
        Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982-Spring 2008. National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research.
        Spring, Chapel Hill (NC)2008 (Available at:) (Accessed August 12, 2010)
        • Faul M.
        • Xu L.
        • Wald M.M.
        • et al.
        Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths 2002–2006.
        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Atlanta (GA)2010
        • Finkelstein E.
        • Corso P.
        • Miller T.
        The incidence and economic burden of injuries in the United States.
        Oxford University Press, New York2006
        • Langlois J.A.
        • Rutland-Brown W.
        • Wald M.M.
        The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview.
        J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2006; 21: 375-378
      3. Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) and the team physician: a consensus statement.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006; 38: 395-399
        • McCrory P.
        • Meeuwisse W.
        • Johnston K.
        • et al.
        Consensus statement on concussion in sport–the 3rd international conference on concussion in sport, held in Zurich, November 2008.
        J Clin Neurosci. 2009; 16: 755-763
        • Valovich McLeod T.C.
        • Bay R.C.
        • Heil J.
        • et al.
        Identification of sport and recreational activity concussion history through the preparticipation screening and a symptom survey in young athletes.
        Clin J Sport Med. 2008; 18: 235-240
        • Delaney J.S.
        • Lacroix V.J.
        • Leclerc S.
        • et al.
        Concussions among university football and soccer players.
        Clin J Sport Med. 2002; 12: 331-338
        • Field M.
        • Collins M.W.
        • Lovell M.R.
        • et al.
        Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes.
        J Pediatr. 2003; 142: 546-553
        • Cusimano M.D.
        Canadian minor hockey participants’ knowledge about concussion.
        Can J Neurol Sci. 2009; 36: 315-320
        • Notebaert A.J.
        • Guskiewicz K.M.
        Current trends in athletic training practice for concussion assessment and management.
        J Athl Train. 2005; 40: 320-325
        • Covassin T.
        • Elbin 3rd, R.
        • Stiller-Ostrowski J.L.
        Current sport-related concussion teaching and clinical practices of sports medicine professionals.
        J Athl Train. 2009; 44: 400-404
        • Sarmiento K.
        • Mitchko J.
        • Klein C.
        • et al.
        Evaluation of the centers for disease control and prevention’s concussion initiative for high school coaches: “Heads Up: concussion in high school sports”.
        J Sch Health. 2010; 80: 112-118
        • Sawyer R.J.
        • Hamdallah M.
        • White D.
        • et al.
        High school coaches’ assessments, intentions to use, and use of a concussion prevention toolkit: centers for disease control and prevention’s heads up: concussion in high school sports.
        Health Promot Pract. 2010; 11: 34-43
        • Hootman J.M.
        • Dick R.
        • Agel J.
        Epidemiology of collegiate injuries for 15 sports: summary and recommendations for injury prevention initiatives.
        J Athl Train. 2007; 42: 311-319
      4. Mueller FO, Colgate B. Annual survey of football Injury research. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2010. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

      5. Mueller FO, Cantu RC. Catastrophic football injuries annual report. Chapel Hill (NC): National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research; 2009. Available at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/. Accessed August 12, 2010.

        • Powell J.W.
        • Barber-Foss K.D.
        Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes.
        JAMA. 1999; 282: 958-963
        • Langburt W.
        • Cohen B.
        • Akhthar N.
        • et al.
        Incidence of concussion in high school football players of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
        J Child Neurol. 2001; 16: 83-85
        • Gessel L.M.
        • Fields S.K.
        • Collins C.L.
        • et al.
        Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes.
        J Athl Train. 2007; 42: 495-503
        • Boden B.P.
        • Tacchetti R.L.
        • Cantu R.C.
        • et al.
        Catastrophic head injuries in high school and college football players.
        Am J Sports Med. 2007; 35: 1075-1081
        • Broglio S.P.
        • Sosnoff J.J.
        • Shin S.
        • et al.
        Head impacts during high school football: a biomechanical assessment.
        J Athl Train. 2009; 44: 342-349
        • Guskiewicz K.M.
        • McCrea M.
        • Marshall S.W.
        • et al.
        Cumulative effects associated with recurrent concussion in collegiate football players: the NCAA Concussion Study.
        JAMA. 2003; 290: 2549-2555
        • Covassin T.
        • Swanik C.B.
        • Sachs M.L.
        Epidemiological considerations of concussions among intercollegiate athletes.
        Appl Neuropsychol. 2003; 10: 12-22
        • Rechel J.A.
        • Yard E.E.
        • Comstock R.D.
        An epidemiologic comparison of high school sports injuries sustained in practice and competition.
        J Athl Train. 2008; 43: 197-204
        • Mueller F.O.
        • Cantu R.C.
        Catastrophic sport injury research 26th annual report: fall 1982–Spring 2003: National center for catastrophic injury research.
        Spring, Chapel Hill (NC)2003
        • Giannone L.
        • Williamson T.L.
        A philosophy of safety awareness.
        in: S George G.S. American association of cheerleading coaches and administrators cheerleading safety manual. UCA Publications Department, Memphis, TN2006: 1-4
        • Shields B.J.
        • Smith G.A.
        Cheerleading-related injuries to children 5 to 18 years of age: United States, 1990–2002.
        Pediatrics. 2006; 117: 122-129
        • Shields B.J.
        • Smith G.A.
        Cheerleading-related injuries in the United States: a prospective surveillance study.
        J Athl Train. 2009; 44: 567-577
        • Schulz M.R.
        • Marshall S.W.
        • Yang J.
        • et al.
        A prospective cohort study of injury incidence and risk factors in North Carolina high school competitive cheerleaders.
        Am J Sports Med. 2004; 32: 396-405
        • Shields B.J.
        • Fernandez S.A.
        • Smith G.A.
        Epidemiology of cheerleading stunt-related injuries in the United States.
        J Athl Train. 2009; 44: 586-594
        • Singh S.
        • Smith G.A.
        • Fields S.K.
        • et al.
        Gymnastics-related injuries to children treated in emergency departments in the United States, 1990–2005.
        Pediatrics. 2008; 121: e954-e960
        • Emery C.A.
        • Hagel B.
        • Decloe M.
        • et al.
        Risk factors for injury and severe injury in youth ice hockey: a systematic review of the literature.
        Inj Prev. 2010; 16: 113-118
        • Emery C.A.
        • Meeuwisse W.H.
        Injury rates, risk factors, and mechanisms of injury in minor hockey.
        Am J Sports Med. 2006; 34: 1960-1969
        • Macpherson A.
        • Rothman L.
        • Howard A.
        Body-checking rules and childhood injuries in ice hockey.
        Pediatrics. 2006; 117: e143-e147
        • Hagel B.E.
        • Marko J.
        • Dryden D.
        • et al.
        Effect of body checking on injury rates among minor ice hockey players.
        CMAJ. 2006; 175: 155-160
        • Yard E.E.
        • Comstock R.D.
        Injuries sustained by pediatric ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey athletes presenting to United States emergency departments, 1990–2003.
        J Athl Train. 2006; 41: 441-449
        • Dick R.
        • Romani W.A.
        • Agel J.
        • et al.
        Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s lacrosse injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004.
        J Athl Train. 2007; 42: 255-261
        • Dick R.
        • Lincoln A.E.
        • Agel J.
        • et al.
        Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate women’s lacrosse injuries: national collegiate athletic association injury surveillance system, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004.
        J Athl Train. 2007; 42: 262-269
        • Mueller B.A.
        • Cummings P.
        • Rivara F.P.
        • et al.
        Injuries of the head, face, and neck in relation to ski helmet use.
        Epidemiology. 2008; 19: 270-276
        • Levy A.S.
        • Hawkes A.P.
        • Hemminger L.M.
        • et al.
        An analysis of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders.
        J Trauma. 2002; 53: 695-704
        • Bridges E.J.
        • Rouah F.
        • Johnston K.M.
        Snowblading injuries in Eastern Canada.
        Br J Sports Med. 2003; 37: 511-515
        • Hentschel S.
        • Hader W.
        • Boyd M.
        Head injuries in skiers and snowboarders in British Columbia.
        Can J Neurol Sci. 2001; 28: 42-46
        • Dick R.W.
        Is there a gender difference in concussion incidence and outcomes?.
        Br J Sports Med. 2009; 43: i46-i50
        • Broshek D.K.
        • Kaushik T.
        • Freeman J.R.
        • et al.
        Sex differences in outcome following sports-related concussion.
        J Neurosurg. 2005; 102: 856-863