As the long-term risks associated with repeated concussions have become more widely known, numerous laws have been enacted across the country to protect student athletes. According to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, the laws appear to be working as researchers found a large increase in treatment for traumatic brain injury and TBI-related injuries.
An increase in individuals being treated for concussions might seem troublesome, but it actually reflects increased awareness and improved response to athletes who may have suffered a brain injury.
The newest study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found a 92% increase in the number of children seeking medical attention for concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries in states with legislation regarding sports-related brain injuries in place.
The findings also showed a 75% increase in those seeking brain injury-related health care in states without such legislation.
“There are two stories here,” said Steven Broglio, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory. “First, the legislation works.”
“The other story is that broad awareness of an injury has an equally important effect. We found large increases in states without legislation, showing that just general knowledge plays a huge part.”
The researchers examined national insurance data from privately insured 12- to 18-year-olds who sought treatment for a concussion between Jan. 1, 2006 and June 30, 2012.
“My thought was that all types of concussion-related services might increase in states that enacted the legislation,” said Teresa Gibson, Ph.D., the study’s first author, who was vice president of health outcomes for Truven Health Analytics when the research was conducted.
“The fact that we didn’t see inpatient visits and emergency department visits increase in states with the legislation, but we saw office-based procedures go up, suggests that the legislation is having the intended effect on these injuries.”
“These injuries are the ones you want to catch, so that athletes will sit out until these injuries are resolved,” Broglio added.