Concussion laws work at lowering head injury risk for young athletes, CU study finds

New laws that require better reporting and monitoring of concussions for high school athletes appear to be working to reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries that young players suffer, according to a study co-authored by a University of Colorado researcher.

The study found that the rates at which young athletes sustained a second concussion soon after suffering their first declined dramatically after states passed the laws. Preventing such “recurrent concussions” is vital because the damage caused by concussions can increase exponentially if the head injuries occur close together in time.

Most of the new laws passed in the last decade — including in Colorado — require youth sports coaches to remove athletes from play if they show signs of a concussion and to prevent the athletes from returning to play until they are cleared by a doctor. Dawn Comstock, a researcher at the CU School of Public Health who is a co-author on the paper, said the study suggests that athletes who sit out until they fully recover from a concussion are less likely to suffer a new concussion when they return to competition.

“The take-home is that it does appear that these state-level concussion laws were effective at improving the recognition of concussions,” Comstock said.

The study was published online earlier this month by the American Journal of Public Health.

Comstock oversees a national database called High School RIO, or Reporting Information Online. The database is part of a broader nationwide effort to track and study high school sports injuries.

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Source:: The Denver Post

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