Why Have Concussion Rates Doubled for U.S. Kids?

concussion ratesEven though parents and coaches understand the dangers of concussion in athletes, the concussion rates in young people doubled in the U.S. between 2007 and 2014.

The risks of concussion didn’t become a much-spoken-about topic in homes across the country until the National Football League acknowledged “long-term concussion affects” in 2009. And families arguably didn’t start paying attention to how a concussion could affect their own contact-sports-playing children until the early years of this decade. So it could be argued – and the UPI story linked to above states so – that the rise in the number of concussions in this country’s youth could well be because coaches, parents and friends are much more aware of its risks, look for its signs and are quite willing to get a young athlete to a doctor when they believe the youngster could have suffered a concussion.

The biggest jump in concussion diagnoses, according to the UPI story, occurred in 10- to 14-year-olds, with the next biggest increase in in 15- to 19-year-olds.

Yet the largest increase in concussion diagnoses wasn’t in high school athletes playing sports in which head injuries generally occur (football, hockey, soccer, basketball, etc.), but in children and teenagers simply skateboarding or riding bicycles.

The article also notes that “return-to-play” laws – in which young athletes must be removed from play if a concussion is at all suspected – weren’t passed by all 50 states in the country until 2009, two years after 2007 (the first-year analyzed in the study), possibly skewing the results in favor of a rise in concussion diagnoses due to increased awareness.

So Are Concussion Rates in Young People Really on the Rise?

While Alan Zhang, MD, the lead researcher in the concussion study, called the rise “alarming” he also said he believes the higher rate of diagnosed concussion “may in part be due to the rise in youth sports participation and also better diagnostic skills/training for coaches and sports medicine professionals.”

He also cautioned against parents restricting their children’s physical activity – both on and off the sports field – to help prevent concussion because exercise is so beneficial.

Proper Protection IS Critical

Dr. Zhang did note that parents should make sure their children wear helmets during sports, as well as when skating, skateboarding or bicycling.

No helmet can truly prevent concussion, but well-made ones definitely help. Our protective caps also don’t prevent concussion, but worn with a great helmet they provide a critical extra layer of defense. Even worn alone, a Sportz Shield cap can reduce the amount of peak shock when your child’s head hits something by up to 23 Gs.


If you’d like to speak with us to learn more about our caps, give us a call at 866-211-0043 or contact us via e-mail.