According to a recent study by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), the number of concussions has risen sharply over the last 5 years in the U.S., especially in the Northeastern region including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, etc. See The Steep Rise in Concussion Diagnoses in the U.S. (released on September 27, 2016).
The study revealed that rates of concussions have increased by 43% from 2010 through 2015 across all age groups. However, for children under the age of 19, particularly the 10-19 age group, concussion diagnoses have increased dramatically. The table below shows the rate of increases in concussion diagnoses (per 1,000). See infographic below.
For the under 10 age group, the rate increased by 22%. For the 10 to 19 age group, the rate increased by over 70%. The 20-64 age group saw an increase of 26%.
One of the main reasons for the increase in diagnoses is increased media and legal attention to concussions, particularly in sports like football. Over the last few years, the NFL has been subject to increased scrutiny after a series of lawsuits for failure to protect players from concussion risks.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey – Concussion Increases in 10 to 19 Age Group
Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey saw stark increases in the number of concussions among the 10 to 19 age group. Compared to a national average increase of about 70%, Pennsylvania and New Jersey saw average increases of 87% and 85%, respectively. Here’s a look at the data:
Sports Accidents – Major Cause of Concussions in Children
Sports accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries in children. Interestingly, the BCBS study revealed that for the 10-19 age group, fall is the peak concussion season. The main reason is that sports such as football and soccer begin in the fall. Football is notorious for injuries. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, football has the highest injury rate, among all sports. For every 100,000 players, 41.1 will become injured. Football outranks rugby, ice hockey, field hockey and basketball when it comes to the number of injuries per participant.
Post-Concussion Syndrome & Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can result in post-concussion syndrome (PCS), symptoms of which include headaches, memory loss, dizziness, etc. Children who have sustained a concussion face higher risks for a second concussion, which can be fatal or cause permanent brain injuries. Rates of PCS are increasing in the U.S.
The BCBS study showed that post-concussion syndrome diagnoses just about doubled from 2010 through 2015, across all ages. In 2010, the annual PCS rate was 7.3. In 2015, that number increased by about 90%, to 13.2.
If your child suffered a concussion, you can get more information about concussions at kidshealth.org.