The number of concussion diagnoses made every year has reached record highs in the past few years, according to a new report from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The numbers suggest the increase in concussion awareness and new regulations in sports organizations have led to better monitoring and fewer missed brain injuries among athletes.
The report says more than 936,000 claims were filed for diagnosed concussions among Blue Cross’s members, with the biggest increases in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19. That group reported 71% more concussions from 2010 to 2015, while concussed adults increased by 26%.
The data attributes the majority of the concussions experienced by adolescents to sports, especially football. The insurance company notes that brain injury rates sharply increase during the fall sports season.
Blue Cross says the surge in concussion diagnoses are linked to increased awareness of concussions and related health concerns, as well as stricter laws requiring athletes who are suspected of being concussed to be assessed before they are allowed to return to play. Teens were also more than five times more likely to be diagnosed with a concussion compared to all other age groups combined.
The report shows that adolescent males were overall more likely to be diagnosed than females, but concussion rates among adolescent females are quickly on the rise. Concussions among females have risen 118% during the study period, compared to 48% increase among teen males.
People appear to be taking their symptoms more seriously as well, as the data shows the number of people reporting post-concussion syndrome has doubled during the study period. Post-concussion syndrome is characterized by concussion symptoms such as headaches and nausea for weeks after an injury.
While the sharp increase in rates would be concerning in most cases, this report is actually cause for hope. While the majority of concussions are minor, the most essential step for guaranteeing a safe and healthy recovery is early identification.