Concussion Incidence May Be Highest Among Nonathlete Undergraduate Students

Medical Bag

February 14, 2020

Concussion is a growing concern among health professionals in the United States. Most research to date has focused on sport-related concussion, although it is known that a substantial number of concussions occur outside of participation in sport. A new study aimed to determine the prevalence of concussion among undergraduate athletes and nonathletes. Researchers determined that although the incidence of concussion was similar among men and women, the rate of non-sport-related concussion was higher than that of sport-related concussion, according to data published in JAMA.

The researchers used data spanning 3 academic years for nonathlete students and 2 academic years for varsity athletes attending a large public US university. Diagnoses of concussion were made either by a concussion team at the student health care center for the general population or by the sports medicine department of the school for varsity athletes. All students were evaluated for neurological status, postural stability, and oculomotor and vestibular domains. The cause of the injury was also indicated for each case. These were characterized as either sport-related or non-sport-related (falls, hits to head, motor vehicle crashes, etc.). Concussion incidence was measured in terms of incidence per 10,000 students and incidence per 1000 person-months (the number of months students were on campus multiplied by undergraduate enrollment).

Of 954 students who were diagnosed with concussions, 52.6% were men and 47.4% were women. The majority (78.5%) were white. Nearly half of the students reported a previous concussion, with many reporting multiple previous concussions. Most common causes were falls (37.7%) and sport-related (35.6%). Among varsity athletes, there were 32 sport-related concussions among women and 9 among men during the first year of the study. The following year, there were 10 concussions among male athletes and 19 among female athletes.

The incidence of non-sport-related concussion was almost double that of sport-related concussion during the study period. This included data for varsity athletes. The majority of non-sport-related concussions occurred in the month of August, whereas sport-related concussion rates varied throughout the academic year. This incidence is more than 2-fold higher than the concussion incidence for the general population reported by the World Health Organization in 2004, demonstrating that the undergraduate population is at an increased risk for concussion. Specifically, women had higher rates of concussion than men, and there were higher rates of non-sport-related concussions than those related to sports.
The study was limited by the facts that not all students who have concussions will seek care and students who do seek care may not do so at a student health center. Varsity athletes are especially less likely to report symptoms, which places the likely rates of concussion among undergraduates higher than those reported in the study. Additionally, the population included in the study is not necessarily representative of the entire student body or the student body at other US colleges and universities.

NOCSAE News

View All
  • Local doctors take concussion research beyond traditional sports, include wheelchair athletes
    January 14, 2022

    WTMJ Online Milwaukee January 12, 2022 Athletes who play full contact sports know that concussions are always a serious risk. That’s why there’s so much research done on the injury. But, that research isn’t always so helpful to athletes in wheelchairs. Doctors at the Zablocki VA Hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury Center are working to change […]

    Read more
  • Death of High School Hockey Player Renews Debate on Neck Guards
    January 14, 2022

    The New York Times January 12, 2022 Expressions of grief after the death of Teddy Balkind, a high school hockey player in Connecticut, have spanned the ice hockey world, from pregame moments of silence in New England to tributes on “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcasts to hockey sticks set tenderly on porches from Manitoba to […]

    Read more
  • Study aims to prevent deadly sports injury in young athletes
    January 14, 2022

    Medical Xpress January 12, 2022 At an Arizona baseball diamond 10 years ago, a 13-year-old baseball player turned to bunt a ball that instead struck his chest. Taking two steps towards first base, he collapsed and died from commotio cordis, the second leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. It’s an outcome Grant […]

    Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *