Study: 1-in-5 high school students have had a concussion

Risks are inherent with activity, but OSAA is doing what it can to reduce risk

A picture of a brain scan (file).
A picture of a brain scan (file).

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 20% of high school students have reported having a concussion, including almost 6% saying they’ve had more than one, a new study shows.

The University of Michigan released the report Tuesday after interviewing over 12,000 students from grades 8, 10 and 12, including 26% of students who don’t play in a sport.

“It’s accurate,” said Dr. James Chestnut, a board-certified sports specialist at OHSU. “Believable — certainly shocking.”

OSAA Executive Director Pete Weber said they're trying to reduce the risks of concussions in sports. (KOIN)
OSAA Executive Director Pete Weber said they’re trying to reduce the risks of concussions in sports. (KOIN)

Chestnut thinks multiple factors play into the numbers.

“Some of it is kind of a reporting bias,” Chestnut said. “Now, we are reporting more. Some of it is I think increasing in incidents.”

This latest report comes two months after the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly 87% of deceased former football players– at any level — had C.T.E., a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated blows to the head that could cause memory loss and suicidal thoughts.

The understanding of concussions, though, is constantly evolving, and football players aren’t the only ones at risk of concussions and possible C.T.E.

“Football is number one,” Chestnut said, “but women’s soccer now is a very close second and soon to be about equal.”

OSAA, the regulating body of high school athletics in Oregon, said they’ve been working for a while to reduce the risk of concussions and subsequent symptoms.

“We were one of the first states to work, along with Washington, to prevent kids from going back to play on the same day they received a concussion,” said Peter Weber, the executive director of OSAA.

No matter how many regulations OSAA has — which you can read more about on their website here — there is still an inherent risk with playing any sports with contact.

“Certainly there are risks involved in any activity,” Weber said. “But (they’re) trying to minimize those risks and doing everything they can to make the game as safe as possible.”