Shining a light on Concussion Awareness Day

Friday, Sept. 16 marks the first ever National Concussion Awareness Day

MICHIGAN - 4,552. That's how many concussions student athletes in Michigan suffered from during the 2015-16 sports season, and those are just the ones reported to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

In lieu of the first ever National Concussion Awareness Day, which falls on Sept. 16, WZZM is bringing light to just how often concussions occur and what they can mean for a person's health.

The MHSAA released their first concussion report on Monday, Sept. 11, which sought to document data from more than 750 high schools regarding head injuries during the 2015-16 season. The report included some expected statistics. Eleven-player football being the most common sport in which athletes suffered a head injury, 1907 injuries to be exact. The highest percentage of injuries occurred on varsity sports teams. Overall, boys received 1,554 more concussions than girls.

But not all statistics were as predictable.

Girls received more concussions playing the same or similar sports as boys. For example, girls basketball athletes suffered 454 head injuries while the boys basketball team had 247. This trend appeared in multiple other sports including soccer, track and swimming and diving. Boys lacrosse was the primary exception to that trend.

Girls also experienced 61 percent of their concussions due to person to object contact, as oppose to the overall average head injury which occurred as a result of person to person contact.

MSHAA asked that schools collect this information and submit two separate forms. The first when the incident initially occurred and the second whenever the athletes were cleared to play the sport again. The highest percentage, more than 28 percent, of athletes were able to return to their sport within 6 to 10 days.

Schools were required to report concussions that occurred during any type of activity, whether it be a practice, game, scrimmage or tournament. This data showed that most incidents tended to occur during the middle of sporting events as oppose to the beginning or end.

This is the first report of its kind, and the MHSAA said in a press release they intend to use it as a baseline test. Adding that they intend to use it for further analysis with the help of places like Michigan State's Youth Athletic Institute. This online reporting program is just one of the measures the association took last year in efforts to develop better responses to concussions. Their efforts came as a result of new legislation, which ordered for the immediate removal of athletes suspected of suffering from a head injury. Michigan was the 39th U.S. state to enact a law regarding the regulation of sports concussions. This law went into effect back in June of 2013.

The association told the Associated Press that their program worked over the last year, and that athletes included in this program were removed from sports activity at a faster rate than those who were not.

MHSAA also piloted a program that allowed for sideline concussion testing, which they launched in 62 schools, last year. But due to funding issues, this program will continue in 34 schools this year.

These are just the efforts of one organization in Michigan, but they are fortunately not alone. Dr. Steve Bloom, of Mary Free Bed spoke at an event last Monday at the YMCA, that informed athletes and their parents about concussions and the correct responses should one occur.

Using the hashtag #NationalConcussionAwarenessDay, social media users are encouraged to share their experiences with concussions throughout the day.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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