Epidemiology of Sport-Related Concussion in an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision Sample

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Abstract

Background:

Concussions are common in football, and knowledge of their incidence rates across settings is needed to develop strategies to decrease occurrence.

Purpose:

To examine sports-related concussion rates in a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision sample based on the activity setting where injuries occurred, during which type of play, and when relative to the 2010 NCAA concussion management policy.

Study Design:

Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods:

Medical records from January 2006 to January 2015 for an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision program were analyzed. Concussion rates (per 1000 athlete-exposures [AEs]) were compared among the following settings: spring practice, preseason training camp, regular season high-contact practice, regular season low-contact practice, bowl game practice, and game competition. Play-type analyses examined incidence rates during offensive, defensive, and special teams plays. Changes in concussion rate coinciding with the 2010 NCAA concussion management policy were also studied.

Results:

Of the 452 unique players on the roster during the 9-year study period, 118 (26.1%) were diagnosed with a concussion. The concussion rate during games was significantly higher than all practices combined (P < .001). However, when game rate (4.46 per 1000 AEs) was compared with preseason training camp alone (3.81 per 1000 AEs), there was no significant difference (P = .433). The concussion rate during special teams plays was significantly higher than that during offensive (P < .001) or defensive plays (P < .001). The concussion rate in the 4 seasons (2010-2014) after the 2010 NCAA concussion management policy was initiated was significantly higher than the 4 seasons (2006-2009) preceding the policy (P = .036).

Conclusion:

Study results show that (1) based on activity type, games and preseason training camp present the greatest risk of sustaining a concussion; (2) based on play type, special teams plays pose the greatest risk of sustaining a concussion; and (3) the 2010 NCAA concussion management policy coincided with a significant increase in recognition of concussion.

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