Objective: To investigate concussion rates and reporting frequencies in high school and collegiate athletes in 2013, compare results to those obtained from 1999 to 2002, and examine to what extent the 2012 Wisconsin state concussion law affected reporting in 2013.
Design: Retrospective 2013 survey compared with prior survey.
Setting: High schools and colleges in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area.
Participants: Athletes (N = 784) from multiple sports were surveyed in 2013. Football players (N = 1532) from 1999 to 2002 completed the same measure.
Main outcome measures: Both surveys assessed concussion history, concussion incidence during the current season, whether incident concussions were reported, who concussions were reported to, and reasons for not reporting. The 2013 survey also assessed awareness of the Wisconsin state law and its effect on reporting.
Results: Rates of concussion in the surveyed season were comparable to previous findings from 1999 to 2002 (16.6% vs 15.3%, P = 0.558). Notably, athletes were significantly more likely to report their concussions in 2013 (70.6% vs 47.3% previously, P = 0.011). Among high school athletes surveyed, 59.5% were aware of the Wisconsin state law, with 55.1% stating it would make them more likely to report a concussion.
Conclusions: Rates of concussion for 1 sport season have not changed significantly over the past 14 years. The percentage of concussions that are reported to someone has increased significantly. Awareness of the Wisconsin state law does not fully account for the increase in concussion reporting.
Clinical relevance: Given the finite amount of knowledge regarding the influence of concussion-related cultural and legal changes, these findings will help to inform clinicians of the current concussion milieu from the perspective of athletes. It will inform practitioners involved in concussion management to what extent athletes are aware of and report concussions.