Context: Sports participation is one of the leading causes of concussions among nearly 8 million US high school student-athletes.
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of sport-related concussion (SRC) in 27 high school sports during the 2011-2012 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting: Aggregate injury and exposure data from 27 sports in 147 high schools in the National Athletic Treatment, Injury and Outcomes Network (NATION).
Patients or other participants: Boy and girl high school athletes during the 2011-2012 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Main outcome measure(s): Sport-related concussion counts, percentages, rates per 10 000 athlete-exposures (AEs), rate ratios (RRs), and injury proportion ratios (IPRs) were reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Rate ratios and IPRs with 95% CIs not containing 1.0 were considered significant.
Results: Overall, 2004 SRCs were reported among 27 high school sports, for a rate of 3.89 per 10 000 AEs. Football had the highest SRC rate (9.21/10 000 AEs), followed by boys' lacrosse (6.65/10 000 AEs) and girls' soccer (6.11/10 000 AEs). The SRC rate was higher in competition than in practice (RR = 3.30; 95% CI = 3.02, 3.60). Among sex-comparable sports, the SRC rate was higher in girls than in boys (RR = 1.56; 95% CI = 1.34, 1.81); however, the proportion of SRCs due to player-to-player contact was higher in boys than in girls (IPR = 1.48; 95% CI = 1.27, 1.73). Common symptoms reported among all athletes with SRCs were headache (94.7%), dizziness (74.8%), and difficulty concentrating (61.0%). Only 0.8% of players with SRCs returned to play within 24 hours. The majority of athletes with SRCs (65.8%) returned to play between 7 and 28 days. More players had symptoms resolve after 7 days (48.8%) than less than a week (40.7%).
Conclusions: Our findings provide updated high school SRC incidence estimates and further evidence of sex differences in reported SRCs. Few athletes with SRCs returned to play within 24 hours or a week. Most injured players returned after 7 days, despite a smaller proportion having symptoms resolve within a week.
Keywords: injury surveillance; return to play; traumatic brain injuries.