The 2018-2019 school year marked the first year member schools were required to report concussions to the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Over 2,100 concussions were reported across grades 7-12 in Kansas.
“The KSHSAA is committed to adopting policy and implementing best practices in order to minimize risk for student participants,” Bill Faflick, KSHSAA executive director said. “We believe it is important to use relevant data to craft such policies and protocols, and we certainly appreciate member schools playing their part by reporting concussions realized in practices and contests under administration of the KSHSAA.”
The tracking of concussions comes from the recommendation and work of the KSHSAA Sports Medicine Committee which meets twice a year. Reporting was done by the school’s administration and/or athletic trainer.
“We believe it is important to have Kansas specific concussion data to truly understand at what level sport concussions are affecting our student participants. Sport related concussions don’t necessarily happen at a high rate compared to some other injuries, but due to the significance of the injury, proper recognition and management are extremely important,” Brent Unruh, KSHSAA office manager and sports medicine liaison, said. “As this dataset continues to grow and trends begin to emerge, KSHSAA leadership, including the association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee can make better informed decisions related to risk minimization and student safety.”
Total participants in each activity was divided by the total number of concussions reported to get the incidence for each activity. The three sports with the highest incidence of reported concussions were Football (6.16%), Girls Soccer (3.63%) and Wrestling (2.98%). The number of days missed was also collected for each reported case and the average by activity is shown in the table. The top three sports with the highest incidence of concussions in Kansas also have the highest concussion injury rate nationally according to the High School RIO study.
Of the reported concussions, 60.5% were reported to be the student’s first ever concussion, 17.5% of the cases were reported as not being the student’s first concussion and 22% of the cases were reported as not knowing. Thirty-seven percent of the reported concussions were incurred at a practice versus 63% in a competition setting. When considering the higher number of practice exposures versus competition exposures throughout a season, this difference illustrates a much higher risk of concussion incidence in a competition setting.
The ongoing High School RIO study taking place through the Colorado School of Public Health is considered the preeminent high school injury tracking study in the nation. This study collects the number of athlete exposures which enables the researchers to obtain an injury rate by sport. The KSHSAA concussion tracking does not track athlete exposures, so it is not possible to compare Kansas concussion injury rates to the national average. But in comparing the overall incidence by sport in Kansas to national data, some very similar trends have been observed over this first year of reporting.
The reporting requirement continues to be in effect for the 2019-2020 school year. Any concussion sustained by a student participating in a KSHSAA sponsored activity shall be reported to the KSHSAA through the online reporting system. By collecting this type of incidence data on an annual basis, better informed decisions can be made regarding risk minimization in activities.