Each year, there are approximately 3.8 million concussions in sports and recreation throughout the country, according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the high-school level, there were more than 500,000 football-related injuries during the 2008-2009 school year, 12.9 percent of which, approximately 68,000, were from concussions. The figures were amassed by the National High School Sports Related Injury Surveillance Study, which currently provides the most comprehensive data on injuries in high school sports nationwide.
The findings, though, only provide a small fraction of the actual number of concussions that occur in a given year. In 2004, a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that only 47 percent of all concussions in high school football were being reported. Dr. Dawn Comstock, an associate professor at The Center For Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an administer of the surveillance study, said other studies place the figure of unreported concussions at closer to “60 percent.” On the youth level, John Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Football, said there have only been 11 reported concussions among the nation’s largest youth football organization. It’s a figure he takes “with a grain of salt,” since there are more than 375,000 Pop Warner players each year in the United States.
“When an athlete injures an ankle it will usually be pretty apparent because he will be limping,” Comstock said. “There are outward visual signs and symptoms that are easy to spot by an observer. With a concussion unfortunately, many of the signs and symptoms aren’t outwardly apparent to an observer things like a headache, dizziness [and] nausea. When you look at those symptoms, many of them we don’t know of unless a student-athlete tells somebody.”