New laws have resulted in a large increase in the treatment of concussion-related injuries for student athletes, according to a new study in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Over the past decade, concerns about concussion injuries and media coverage of them have skyrocketed, researchers at the University of Michigan noted. Since 2009, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws regulating concussion treatment — the first laws written to address a specific injury, the researchers note.
The new study found a 92 percent increase in children seeking medical assistance for concussions in states with the legislation in place. States without concussion laws showed a 75 percent increase in those seeking injury-related health care, according to the study’s findings.
“There are two stories here,” said Steven Broglio, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory. “First, the legislation works.
“The other story is that broad awareness of an injury has an equally important effect. We found large increases in states without legislation, showing that just general knowledge plays a huge part.”
For their study, Broglio and his colleagues examined nationwide insurance data from privately insured 12- to 18-year-olds who sought treatment for a concussion between Jan. 1, 2006 and June 30, 2012. They examined data in states with and without concussion laws.
“My thought was that all types of concussion-related services might increase in states that enacted the legislation,” said Teresa Gibson, Ph.D., the study’s first author, who was vice president of health outcomes for Truven Health Analytics when the research was conducted.
“The fact that we didn’t see inpatient visits and emergency department visits increase in states with the legislation, but we saw office-based procedures go up, suggests that the legislation is having the intended effect on these injuries.”
“These injuries are the ones you want to catch, so that athletes will sit out until these injuries are resolved,” Broglio added.
The study also found that:
- after the first concussion law passed in 2009, treatment rates in states without concussion laws increased roughly 20 percent annually. In states with concussion laws, the annual rates of treated concussion averaged an additional 13 percent higher;
- rates of treated concussion in states without legislation were seven percent higher in 2009-10, 20 percent higher in 2010-11, and 34 percent higher in 2011-12;
- in states without legislation, office visits for concussion rose 78 percent by 2012 compared to pre-legislation trends. The rate was 17 percent higher in states with concussion laws.
Source: University of Michigan