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Canadian Study: Concussion Twice as Prevalent as Once Thought

New research shows that concussions are more common than we thought.

Researchers at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network discovered that150,000 Ontario residents — 1.2 percent of the province’s population — are diagnosed with a concussion each year. That’s almost twice as high as previously recorded, and may represent a closer estimate of the true picture of concussion in Ontario, they say.

“Past research has looked at the incidence of concussion by examining a particular population, cause of injury, or use a single reporting source, such as records from the Emergency Department. This can under-represent estimates of the real incidence of concussion,” said lead author Laura Langer.

“Our study revealed concussion rates that are almost double what has been previously reported, and highlights the critical importance of looking at everyone who sought medical attention for their concussion.”

Using the ICES Data Repository, a province-wide archive that integrates multiple clinical and administrative health databases, the researchers looked at concussion rates in Ontario between 2008 and 2016.

They discovered:

  • about 150,000 Ontarians experience a concussion each year;
  • children under 5 years old experience the highest rate of concussion among all Ontarians;
  • adults over 65, especially women, experience a higher rate of concussion than younger adults;
  • 26 percent all of concussions are diagnosed in the summer;
  • rural communities experience a higher rate of concussion than non-rural communities; and,
  • although most concussions are diagnosed in the Emergency Department, more and more patients with concussion symptoms are visiting their own doctors.

According to the researchers, the high rate of reported concussions is influenced by a number of factors, including increased public awareness from athletes and the media, new mandatory reporting laws, and the release of numerous diagnostic and management guidelines for physicians and patients.

As patients increasingly look to their own doctors for a diagnosis, the researchers say there is a need to continue raising awareness about causes and symptoms, and a growing obligation to educate doctors on concussion care.

Additionally, one in seven Ontario residents with a concussion will experience persistent, post-concussive symptoms. That means it is “critical to develop tools to identify who will face long-term problems, so we can individualize early treatments to prevent long-term complications,” researchers said in the study, which was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

Source: University Health Network

Canadian Study: Concussion Twice as Prevalent as Once Thought

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2019). Canadian Study: Concussion Twice as Prevalent as Once Thought. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Jul 2019 (Originally: 8 Jul 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 7 Jul 2019
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