1 in 5 teens suffer concussions, UM study finds

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

A University of Michigan study released Tuesday finds one out of five teens reported at least one concussion diagnosis during their lifetime and cites sports as a primary cause.

The national study, called “Monitoring The Future,” conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research, is an ongoing survey asking teens in 8th, 10th and 12th grades: “Have you ever had a head injury that was diagnosed as a concussion?”

Phil Veliz, a UM assistant research professor, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 13,000 teens last year and found one out of five teens reported at least one concussion diagnosis, and 5.5 percent have had more than one concussion.

Veliz said the study was conducted as scrutiny is growing about concussions among professional athletes, especially players in the National Football League.

Teens in the study group were asked if they played at least one of 21 sports, and Veliz said the results were what researchers and physicians expected.

“Findings showed that 19.5 percent reported at least one diagnosed concussion in their lifetime, which was consistent with regional studies and with emergency department reports stating contact sports are a leading cause of concussion among teens,” he said.

Veliz said the study is ongoing and researchers plan to follow a panel of 12th graders beyond this year to see how the concussion affects their lives.

“The study is important to create a greater awareness for concussions,” Veliz said. “This is the first blank study we have and the results were not shocking. It was expected. Some physicians will agree – we just never had that hard number and that’s what the study provides.”

The study was funded by the Nation Institute on Drug Abuse and is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In five years, we can compare it and see if the number affected has increased or decreased,” Veliz said.