For football players, concussion risk may be highest at practice

Concussions have become a topic of increasing concern in recent years, particularly for parents of children and teens who play football and other high-impact sports. Understandably, many parents worry about the risk of child athletes suffering a potentially debilitating head injury in the competitive atmosphere of a football game. However, recent research suggests that, for many young football players, the risk of concussions may actually be greater during practice than during games.

According to the study, which was published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics in May 2015, 58 percent of concussions suffered by high school and college football players occurred during practice. Among younger players, the risk of head injuries during games was somewhat higher, with 46 percent of concussions occurring during practice. The analysis, conducted by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention Inc., was based on injury data drawn from 238 football teams over the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The relative frequency of head trauma during football practice compared to games may seem counterintuitive, but it comes down to a matter of exposure. As the authors of the study explain, because not everyone plays in every game at the high school and college level, the number of players exposed to head injuries is generally higher during practice than during competitive play.

Despite risks, football eclipses other sports

Although participation in high school football has been declining for the past few years, perhaps due in part to growing concerns about the risk of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, it still remains the most popular sport among high school students nationwide.

More high school students play football in California than any other state except Texas, according to the latest data from the National Federation of High School Associations. This statistic is true both in terms of sheer numbers and as an average of football players per school; California is home to 1,088,158 high school football players, with an average of 98 football players per high school statewide.

Protecting child athletes

As the medical and scientific communities expand their understanding of concussions and their long-term effects, particularly among children and teenagers, it becomes increasingly clear that schools, coaches and other adults who work with child athletes have a responsibility to address and minimize the risk of head trauma among this vulnerable population.

If your child has suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing football or other contact sports, be sure to talk with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to find out about the steps you can take to protect your child's best interests. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to recover financial compensation to help provide him or her with the resources necessary to make a maximum recovery. Contact the personal injury lawyers at David P. Beeson & Associates to learn more.