Since 2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted one or more traumatic brain injury (TBI) laws, more commonly known as concussion laws. These laws often include mandates to remove athletes from play following an actual or suspected concussion, requirements to be cleared to return to play, and annual education of coaches, parents, and/or athletes regarding concussion signs or symptoms. A recent study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital done in conjunction with researchers from Colorado School of Public Health at the University at Colorado and Temple University used data from a large, national sports injury surveillance system to determine the effect of state-level TBI laws on trends of new and recurrent concussions among US high school athletes.
The study, published today in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the rates of new and recurrent concussions initially increase after a law goes into effect. “This is what we want to see,” explained Ginger Yang, PhD, MPH, senior author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s. “Most TBI laws require athletes, athletic trainers, and/or coaches to report all suspected and/or actual TBIs and concussions. So what happens is that after a law is enacted you see an initial increase because more people become aware of the symptoms and signs of concussion. Many concussions that were going unreported or undiagnosed before are starting to get reported.”
Approximately 2 ½ years after the law is in place the rate of recurrent concussions shows a significant decline. This demonstrates that the laws are having an impact….