Nearly 450 student-athletes at Idaho high schools missed practice time or games this past fall because of potential or confirmed concussions, according to a new survey.
And thats with only 45 percent of the states approximately 152 schools responding to the concussion survey conducted by the Boise-based Idaho High School Activities Association.
The results from this fall season for all levels of high school competition, based on the reporting of 68 schools:
Football: 307 players missed time because of potential or confirmed concussions.
Girls soccer: 72
Boys soccer: 38
Girls cross country: 2
Boys cross country: 2
IHSAA Executive Director John Billetz said the association conducted the survey to set a baseline and begin tracking changes and trends.
The information will help the IHSAA determine whether more training or precautionary measures need to be taken in a given sport. The survey will be conducted for fall, winter and spring sports, Billetz said.
We need to start creating a database and seeing if we have one sport thats actually higher than another or if there is an increase in a particular area or something like that, Billetz said. At least well have some information that will help drive why were doing what we are doing.
The biggest disparity the difference in numbers between boys and girls soccer players is in line with national studies. In gender-comparable sports, such as soccer, multiple national studies have shown that girls suffer a higher rate of concussions than boys.
There are two theories as to why: strength and structural differences in the head/neck area of boys and girls, and that female athletes are generally more honest about reporting injuries than male athletes.
Rocky Mountain High girls soccer coach Donal Kaehler has spent considerable time researching the topic and isnt convinced the two theories tell the complete story.
I think it is absolutely the way that boys and girls approach the game. ... Its not just concussions, its other injuries, too. Sprains, joint, and obviously ACLs, all those things are higher with the girls game than the boys game, said Kaehler, citing a 2010-11 study presented by the Center for Injury Research & Policy.
Kaehler said four of his players had concussions this past season. He emphasizes that injury prevention in general and not just concussions should continue to be a priority.
Theyre kids, you know? Theyre 14 to 18. Theyve got a lot of years left, Kaehler said. They cant afford those kinds of injuries. ... We need to take better care of our kids regardless of what happens with the outcome of the game.
Bishop Kelly High football coach Tim Brennan said progress is being made, even though the football numbers far outweigh those linked to other sports.
It is night and day compared to what it used to be in terms of concussion awareness, he said. Ten years ago, a kid would come to you and say he had a headache and youd say, Well, go get a drink of water. It was unfortunate, but that was the way it was because we just didnt have the same knowledge that we do today.
As concussion awareness and prevention measures have increased in recent years, the Idaho Legislature passed a bill in 2010 requiring the State Board of Education to collaborate with the IHSAA to disseminate guidelines and information on the risks of head injuries to coaches, athletes and parents.
The concussion surveys sent out this school year are a part of that ongoing process.
The education that we are able to get out there to inform people is so much better, said Centennial athletic trainer Eric Taylor, who is in his 21st year at the school. We meet with very little resistance anymore when it comes to concussions.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,