High schools with athletic trainers have more diagnosed concussions, fewer overall injuries

High schools with athletic trainers have lower overall injury rates, according to a new study, “A Comparative Analysis of Injury Rates and Patterns Among Girls’ Soccer and Basketball Players,” presented Oct. 22 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. In addition, athletes at schools with athletic trainers are more likely to be diagnosed with a concussion.

Researchers reviewed national sports injury data on girls’ high school soccer and basketball programs with athletic trainers, between the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2009, from the Reporting Information Online (RIO™) and compared it to local Sports Injury Surveillance System (SISS) data on a sample of Chicago public high school programs without athletic trainers for the same sports and time period.

Overall injury rates were 1.73 times higher among soccer players and 1.22 times higher among basketball players in schools without athletic trainers. Recurrent injury rates were 5.7 times higher in soccer and 2.97 times higher in basketball in schools without athletic trainers. In contrast, concussion injury rates were 8.05 times higher in soccer and 4.5 times higher in basketball in schools with athletic trainers.

While less than 50 percent of U.S. high schools have athletic trainers, “this data shows the valuable role that they can play in preventing, diagnosing and managing concussions and other injuries,” said Cynthia LaBella, MD, FAAP. “Athletic trainers have a skill set that is very valuable, especially now when there is such a focus on concussions and related treatment and care. Concussed athletes are more likely to be identified in schools with athletic trainers and thus more likely to receive proper treatment.

“Athletic trainers facilitate treatment of injuries and monitor recovery so that athletes are not returned to play prematurely. This likely explains the lower rates of recurrent injuries in schools with athletic trainers,” said Dr. LaBella.

3 COMMENTS

  1. At a recent Westchester County (NY) meeting of district school physicians that was convened to compare notes on managing concussions in high schools this very fact was in evidence. There was only one doctor around the table who had not seen any concussions reported yet while other physicians have been swamped with concussion management and head injuries. She happens to work in a large school with an active football team and a majority of city/minority students and has no certified athletic trainer on staff! It begs the question of how much we care about all of our youth and the racial disparities and inequalities in the budgets of our schools. For more information on the role of the certified athletic trainer and a video of Sanjay Gupta exploring this issue, check out It’s All in Your Head: Everyone’s Guide to Managing Concussions and follow this issue at http://www.ManagingConcussions.com.

  2. Two conditions that need more focus when they appear together. Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction, commonly known as the boxers glass jaw and concussion history. It’s been found in preliminary data that this diagnosable condition can lead to Tmd symptoms often misconstrued as dings, headache, nausea and inner ear issues such as vertigo. The U.S. Army has recognized this element of cervical spine alignment and an orthotic oral appliance found to help orthopedics related to the bracsio plexus nerve and cervical spine.

  3. Great article. Every school with athletics needs an athletic trainer on campus daily. As one school was quoted in the The Tennessean on 10/22/2012 they send their athletes to a nearby chiropractor’s office when they are hurt. A school being able to send an injured athlete with a broken bone or a concussion somewhere is not proper coverage for a high school in 2012. If a school is going to take the responsibility to have contact & collision sports they must have an athletic healthcare plan in place.

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