MHSAA says concussions down in state HS sports last year


Concussions sustained by Michigan high school student athletes are on the decline, according to a report by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Confirmed concussions in the 2017-2018 season were down 9.6 percent compared to the previous year.

The MHSAA has been collecting head injury reports since the 2015-2016 season and the number of confirmed concussions has gone down each year and are down a total of 19.6 percent since the first year of the study.

Kevin Kott, a certified athletic trainer at West Shore Medical Center who works with athletes from all five schools in Manistee County, is obviously pleased to see the downward trend in head injuries.

“I think the results are definitely encouraging,” Kott said. “It’s at least a step in the right direction. … While there is no way to truly prevent a concussion in sports, seeing these numbers on the decline should give coaches, parents and medical professionals some reassurance that the changes that have been made are working to make sports safer.”

Kott feels breakthroughs in safety gear and the effort coaches put into limiting concussions are responsible for the decrease in head injuries.

“You need to look at the collision sports — football and hockey — and the changes that have been made,” Kott said. “I’d say (the decrease in head injuries) is a cumulative effect. Limiting contact days in practice, increasing focus on form and technique and improving equipment with better helmets and gear have all played a part.”

The data compiled by the MHSAA indicates female athletes are more than twice as likely to report head injuries when playing the same sports as male athletes.

Though Kott hasn’t noticed such a discrepancy in his own experience, he has a few theories as to why it might exist.

“Of course, gender is the obvious difference we need to look into,” Kott said. “Are females genetically more susceptible to concussions than their male counterparts? Is it the equipment that is used? It’s hard to say.

“However, you could also look into the idea that female athletes may report their symptoms more frequently — and honestly — than a male athlete would,” Kott continued. “I still feel there’s a certain stigma applied to male sports — a ‘suck it up’ attitude that you may not get in women’s athletics. I would hope that is not the case, but it is something that should be considered as to why there is such a difference.”

Unsurprisingly, football and ice hockey are responsible for the most head injuries in high school sports per 1000 athletes. However, girls soccer, girls basketball and girls competitive cheerleading round out the top five.

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