The vast majority of recent studies on school-age athletes and brain injuries have been worrisome. Last year, one study reported that nearly half of all high school athletes claimed they would purposefully not report concussion symptoms if it would keep them in competition, and another Canadian study claimed that one in five students have suffered a brain injury at some point.
But, a new study offers hope in the storm of troubling traumatic brain injury news. Education and prevention methods may be working, as the latest reports show that an increasing number of high school athletes are complying with concussion guidelines.
Compliance with the guidelines have been one of the largest concerns with sports-related brain injuries, as the culture tends to prize strength and winning over individual health and a large number of athletes were finding ways around the guidelines.
However, a team of researchers from Children’s Hospital Colorado, led by Dr. Mark Riederer, tracked compliance levels from 2005 through 2013, and they found that compliance levels began to steadily improve after 2008.
“In 2007 we had just above 50 percent of athletes noncompliant,” he said. “In 2012-2013, it looked like 20 percent. We think that’s excellent.”
The findings are due to be presented this week during the annual meeting of the American Society for Sports Medicine in New Orleans, and the findings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To account for the variation of brain injury guidelines across the country, compliance was defined as waiting to return to play six or more days following the resolution of symptoms. The researchers also used a set of commonly accepted guidelines known as the Zurich return-to-play guidelines.