Researchers say concussion laws are making a difference

October 23, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
A new analysis published by the American Journal of Public Health has found that laws and other preventative measures used in the fight against concussions are making a difference.

Photo: Kevin Hoffman

All states and the District of Columbia have implemented some sort of law to protect young athletes. The study found that nearly two-and-a-half years after those laws were passed, concussions began to decline.

According to the Journal, researchers analyzed concussion data from 2005-16. Before the implementation of new laws and safety measures, new and recurrent concussions were on the rise. They continued to climb in the two years after the laws were passed before they suddenly began to decline. 

The rate of recurrent concussions has dropped nearly 10 percent, according to the study, and new concussions began to decline less than four years after the laws were put in place.

From the AJPH:

We included a total of 8,043 reported concussions (88.7% new, 11.3% recurrent). The average annual concussion rate was 39.8 per 100 000 athlete exposures. We observed significantly increased trends of reported new and recurrent concussions from the prelaw, through immediate-postlaw, into the postlaw period. However, the recurrent concussion rate showed a significant decline 2.6 years after the laws went into effect. Football exhibited different trends compared with other boys’ sports and girls’ sports.

Observed trends of increased concussion rates are likely attributable to increased identification and reporting. Additional research is needed to evaluate intended long-term impact of traumatic brain injury laws. 

States — along with schools and athletic associations — are doing more to educate athletes and coaches about concussions. As the study notes, awareness efforts are certainly making a difference. Strategies like tackling techniques in football or eliminating headers in some soccer leagues also could have an impact.

More research is necessary, but the study offers promising signs. To learn more about the AJPH study, click here.

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