Concussions are a serious issue for high school football players and not just during games. A new study finds that more than half -- 57% -- of high school and college football player concussions studied occurred during practice.
The researchers say their findings should be a call for action.
"Concussions during practice might be mitigated and should prompt an evaluation of technique and head impact exposure. Although it is more difficult to change the intensity or conditions of a game, many strategies can be used during practice to limit play-to-player contact and other potentially injurious behaviors,” the authors of the study said.
Thomas P. Dompier, of the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention Inc., and his team collected data from over 20,000 athlete seasons to see how much of an effect concussions had on athletes from youth to college levels. An athlete season is defined as one player participating in one season of a sport.
High school most dangerous
The study found that high school players were much more likely to suffer concussions than youth- or college-level players.
There were 1,198 concussions reported during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Of this number, 141 (11.8%) occurred at the youth level, 795 (66.4%) occurred at the high school level, and 262 (21.9%) occurred at the college level. At each level, concussions accounted for 9.6%, 4%, and 8% of all injuries, respectively.
While 53.9% of concussions happened during games at the youth level, roughly 57% of all concussions at the high school and college levels happened during practice.
“The rate of concussion in youth players was generally not different from those in high school and college players compared with other injuries. However, football practices were a major source of concussion at all three levels of competition," the researchers said.
The study was published by JAMA Pediatrics and is available to the public.