Risk of Concussion During Sports Versus Physical Education Among New Mexico Middle and High School Students

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To measure the risk of concussion among New Mexico middle and high school students during both sports and physical education.


Athletic directors or athletic trainers in 147 schools were asked to report the number of concussions occurring during sports and physical education in the 2013 to 2014 school year. We calculated 1-year cumulative incidence rates.


Of the 147 schools, 99 responded (67%). During the school year, 598 students were removed from athletics because of a concussion, a 1-year cumulative incidence of 3.5 per 100. The concussion rate during sports was 3.0: 3.5 for boys and 2.4 for girls (relative risk [RR] = 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2, 1.7). An additional 335 students experienced concussions during physical education. Concussion rates during physical education were 60% higher than during sports (RR = 1.6; 95% CI = 1.4, 1.8).


In our data, the risk of concussion was higher in physical education than in sports. This suggests that concussions should be tracked for a wide range of youth athletic activities, not just for sports. Monitoring cumulative incidence, in addition to other measures, may allow comparisons across schools and regions. More prevention efforts are needed.

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